Reasons for Believing in the Accuracy on Inaccuracy of Sensory Information
If fortunate enough, we are born with all the five senses which are touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell. These senses help us to perceive our environment and are the basis on which we go about our daily activities. We eat, listen, look, smell, and feel, and this is made possible by sensory perceptions. There are three reasons for believing in the accuracy of sensory information. One is the aspect of sensory interaction. Different senses work together to create an experience. For example, taste, texture, and smell combine to create the flavor that we experience in food. Another example is the understanding of a speech. It might seem like the hearing is the only essential part, but the visual aspect is important too, and this is in terms of gestures and body language.
Two is the aspect of selective attention. This is the ability to focus on some sensory inputs while tuning out others. According to Stangor (2010), selective attention allows people to focus on a single speaker at a party while ignoring other conversations that occur around them. This selective attention is important in focusing on a certain thing. It also applies in seeing, whereby our eyes focus on a certain view while ignoring the rest. Three is perceptual constancy. Our senses are able to consistently perceive a certain sensation the same way over and over again. For example, when we are pricked by a sharp object, we tend to feel pain. Every time we are pricked, we will feel the same pain. We consistently taste food and feel its flavor over and over again. This is proof that our senses are accurate enough.
At the same time, there are reasons to believe in the inaccuracy of sensory information. First, past experiences might have an influence on a person’s perception of sensory information (Price, 2008). For instance, it is normal for a girl and boy to talk, but a person who is in an insecure relationship might jump to wrong conclusions when he or she sees their partner talking to another person. Second, environmental influences or factors might cause distortion in our interpretation of sensory information. Third, no matter the sensory organ used, people do not correctly interpret sensory information always.
Contributors to Accuracy or Inaccuracy of Sensory Data
Often, certain factors contribute to sensory data accuracy. First is the overall body health. The health of our bodies can alter the accuracy. When people fall sick, the sensory perceptions might be altered. For example, a person suffering from malaria will not be able to taste food normally. This explains the loss in appetite in some people when they are sick. Sickness might also impair sight and illness hence affecting sensory data accuracy. Second, drugs also affect the accuracy. These can be drugs and substances such as narcotics, alcohol, and pain medications. People usually take painkillers in order to suppress pain. In other words, these drugs alter the brain’s interpretation of pain. Substances such as alcohol and narcotics also affect the brain, hence impairing some senses such as sight, taste, and hearing, (Stangor, 2010). Third, memory also contributes to sensory data accuracy. By looking at the fire, one cannot perceive that it is hot and can cause burns or pain. However, we remember that putting a hand over the fire caused pain. It is the memory that reminds us of this fact.
Fourth, sensation contributes to the accuracy of sensory data. Sensation is a result of sensory organs, neurons and the nervous systems. Under normal conditions, there is pure sensation that is provided directly by the body senses. However, under unfavorable conditions, the senses catch our attention. Fifth is the perception of a particular sensation. An example is how males and females tend to have differing color perceptions depending on what they have as sensation. The final factor that contributes to sensory data accuracy is interpretation, a factor which incorporates all perceptions by the brain and organizes them in various contexts (Kemp et al., 2009).
Roles of Nature and Nurture
Nature and nurture have roles with regard to the evaluation and interpretation of sensory data. Wood & Wadley (2004) observe that nature has to do with our genetic dispositions while nurture has to do with the environmental influences. Both of these guide human development, right from infancy through to adulthood. Nature plays a significant role since our genetic dispositions are different. For example, some people might have a sharp sense of smell, or sight, or hearing. This has to do with nature. On the other hand, nurture also plays a significant role. Right from the womb, a fetus is exposed to a certain environment. This is the same in other life development stages. These environments usually affect our sensory perceptions. For example, a person who lives in an extremely cold area will tend to adapt to the area such that they will develop sensory adaptation. However, none of the two is more superior to the other since both are critical in the development of human sensations. For example, while a child might be born with natural or instinctive visual mechanisms of the brain, they need experience or nurture to activate these mechanisms.
Stangor, C. (2010) Introduction to Psychology. New York: Flat World Knowledge, L.L.C.
Wood, M. K. & Wadley, V. G. (2004) Sensory and Cognitive Factors Influencing Functional Ability in Adults. Gerontology, 2005; 51; pp. 131-141.
Kemp, S., Hollywood, T. & Hort J. (2009) Sensory Evaluation. New Jersey: John Willey and Sons.
Price, R. (2008) Sensory Perception Limitations. Howard Hughes Medical Journal, 2008, pp. 6- 10