Many of the principals that govern human visual perception were first identified by the German School of Gestalt Psychology.Gestalt means "form", "shape", "pattern" with the emphasis being on "the whole".Gestalt Psychologists believe that the mind is active and constantly looking for meanings especially in relation to visual perception, for example, recognising a face.Perception involves both the senses of seeing and thinking.
Our perceptions sometimes misrepresent the world. When our perception of an object does not match its true physical characteristics, we have experienced an illusion.Some illusions may be perceived in a certain way depending upon the viewers personality or expectations. Illusions are simple demonstrations of the "active mind".Illusions can be identified as distortions (or geometric illusions), ambiguous or reversible) figures, paradoxical figures (or impossible objects) and fictions (which help explain how we perceive that objects possess specific shapes).
A well known reversible figure is Boring's "Old/Young Woman. The picture of the woman can be perceived as the profile of a young woman's face or an old woman's face.The object of showing the picture to a group of people is to determine whether men, see a young woman in the picture or an old woman , and whether women see a young woman in the picture or an old woman.In this experiment carried out in the past, the results have been that men (especially young men) see a young woman in the picture and women generally see an old woman.
The possible reason for these results could be that men are thinking about sex more often than women and want and expect to see a young woman. Women maybe identify more with their mothers - hence they see an old woman.HYPOTHESISThere will be a significant difference between the number of men who see the picture of "Old/Young Woman" depicting a young woman as compared to the number of women who see the same picture.The hypothesis is 1 tailed and a significant difference would amount to at least 0.
05%NULL HYPOTHESISThere will not be a significant difference between the number of men who see the picture of "Old/Young Woman" depicting a young woman as compared to the number of women who see the same picture. Any differences will be down to chance.DESIGN & MATERIALSAn A4 size photocopy of the "Old/Young Woman" picture was shown to 30 participants including 15 men and 15 women. This picture was the only materials needed apart from the list of results obtained.The participants were asked to state what they could see from the picture shown.Participants were chosen by means of an Opportunity Sample largely because it was convenient and also because the experiment was to be done on a small scale.
The participants were approached by the researcher at the entrance to a shopping mall and results were taken between the times of 3.00 and 4.00 pm on a week day.PROCEDUREData was obtained by approaching possible participants and asking them if they would take part in an experiment to prove a theory. The same standardised instructions were followed for each participant.
The brief asked them to help the experimenter with their psychology coursework, and explained briefly that the experiment was to investigate a theory about visual illusions. The participants were shown a picture of the "Old/Young Woman" and asked to tell the experimenter what they saw in the picture.TABLETable to show the number of participants who saw a young woman and the number of participants who saw an old woman.It is clear from the table that more men participants see the picture depicting a young woman than women participants and more women participants see the picture depicting an old woman than men participants.DISCUSSIONThe result of the experiment supported the hypothesis that there will a significant difference between the number of men who see the picture depicting a young woman as compared to the number of women who see the same picture.
Limitation to this experiment however included the number of people approached was only 30. A larger sample would have been more useful.One man in the experiment did not see an old or a young woman he saw sheep!The experiment was culturally biased towards the white Caucasian British and a representative sample of the population was not gained.Other limitations were that a number of people were familiar with the picture of the "Old/Young Woman". One participant was a psychology student who could have been biased.CONCLUSIONThe experiment appeared to support the hypothesis.It would have been interesting and more thorough to have carried out a more detailed experiment using exact age groups of male and female participants to find out if there was a difference between younger and older participants.