Overview: Edit

Perception is defined as the ability to mentally process and subconsciously notice particular things about a certain someone or something based on one or more senses. How perception can reflect on mass media can impact this generation in many ways.

Definiton: Edit

The process of perception works in three different ways: organization, identification, and interpretation. Our brain subconsciously perceives sensory information so that we can get a full understanding on our environment, which could alter our visual reality. For something to become perceivable, the object must be accessible for the brain to psychologically process thru the interplay of taste, sight, sound, smell, and touch. A sort of sensation must pass thru the body towards the brain's sensory component and that sensation is achieved by perceiving the entity using eyes, nose, ears, mouth, or touch.

History: Edit

Since prehistoric times, the concept of visual perception has been philosophically practiced as a result for people that are trying to fulfill a better understanding on the nature of experience. During the 19th century, psychophysics came into play for psychologists to practice with. This practice helped psychologists obtain a better scientific understanding on how the human brain perceives information thru a series of psychological experiments and various techniques. According to Stephen Wolfram, from his notes for his book entitle A New Kind of Science, ("Some historical notes: Notes from chapter 10: Processes of Perception and Analysis") he discusses about how early the idea of perception had originated. Visual perceptions about natural experience have been documented as early as the 1800's. Due to the lack of numerical mathematical analysis discovered yet, led to the Gestalt Laws. Gestalt Law's, also referred to as The Principles of Grouping, is a set of


Image 1: Gestalt's Law tested the theory on how the human brain perceives complete shapes psychologically, even though the object present is incompletely drawn.

psychological guidelines that elaborate on how humans naturally conduct objects in their mind without even fully seeing the entire object. The image shown on the right, (Image 1), is a visual example of Gestalt's theory. psychological perspective on visual perception. It wasn't till between the 1940's and 1950's that a theory emerged about visual images and how they are processed using an arrangement of simple elements. This idea was elaborated more in the 1960's, which lead to the characterization of humans perceiving texture. During the 1970's, the major break thru of geometrical properties within perception became discovered by David Marr. Between then and the current 20th century, many studies have been organized by scientists and psychologists. The progression of technology enabled these groups of people to study the Neuroscience behind visual Perception. In the article written by Robert Sylwester entitled, "How Mass Media Affect Our Perception of Reality - Part 2" he goes in depth on how today's mass media has evolved to the point on "constantly bombarding us" with pointless coverage. Our brains only want to perceive the important information, (i.e. the foreground), while we tend to ignore the background coverage. Humans have a short attention span, so mass media productions must incorporate concepts that humans can attach and relate to on a personal level that will appeal to them. It's all about paying attention to the subject matter and how you're going to perceive it.

Examples in Media: Edit

"The Dress": Edit

In our world, mass media holds an important value to our rather large environment/audience. Mass media has become the go-to spot for discovering what's going on in the current world. The way mass media can persuade and inform can have a powerful impact on society, which can affect the way society perceives this information. Now a-days, most new's channels bombard our TV screens with conflicting media messages. Some of these informative broadcasts are very vague and contain mis-information, or they only conduct a one sided approach towards a two sided story. Watching these news casts can be a challenge for our brain to process since our brains must constantly differeniate between context, the foreground, and the background. The foreground and context are the center of attention and display the important activities that are currently taking place, while the background is more peripheral in a sense because it's not as big as a deal to pay attention to. Our brains tend to focus on just the big picture and are merely aware, (or completely ignore) the content outside the frame. Due to our opportunistic brains, the length our attention span is short because of the amount of times our brain has to shift in order to focus. TV commercials are one of the biggest examples that take advantage of this psychological tactic.

The Dress (viral phenomenon)

Image 2: The dress that broke the internet in 2015 and an example on how we psychological perceive color.

The commercial doesn't have to be a complex one in order for the message to successfully misguide the audience. Around the time of February last year, the internet broke with millions of of people loosing their minds over a simple picture of a dress, (as shown on the right at Image 2). This originally began by a Scotish couple, who posted a picture of their potential wedding dress on their own Tumblr blog and simply asked one question about it; what is really the color of that dress? Everyone online viewed the dress in either white and gold, or black and blue. "The Dress" is a popular example of of a viral phenomenon being misperceieved in mass media. Neuroscientists believe that the reason why certain people viewed the dress as a different color was because of how our brains perceive color and the process of chromatic adaptation. According to Diana C. Mutz in her article, "The Influence of Perceptions of Media Influence: Third Personal Effects and the Public Expression of Opinions", she conducts a study on different people's opinions on certain subject matters due to how they perceive and comprehend the information. Diana C. Mutz also tested the theory on how we perceive today's media and how it reflects on how we think about the world and today's news.

Keywords: Edit

Media (communication)

Psychology of Spoken Word

New Media


Citations: Edit

Wolfram, Stephen. "Some Historical Notes: Notes from Chapter 10: Processes of Perception and Analysis." Wolfram Science. N.p., 2002. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.<>

Sylwester, Robert. "How Mass Media Affect Our Perception of Reality - Part 2 - Brain Connection." Brain Connection. N.p., 04 Jan. 2002. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.<>

Mutz, Diana C. "The Influence of Perceptions of Media Influence: Third Person Effects and the Public Expression Of Opinions." Oxford Journals. Int. Journal of Public Opinion Research, 2015. Web. 06 Nov. 2015. <>.