HOME - Reader's
Perception: How Our Expectations Influence Perception
A teacher gives a vivid
Kirsten is a long term subscriber to my BrainSqueezers
newsletter (hint: the sign-up is to your
right!) and wrote to me with a fascinating experiment
in perception she carried out at her school...
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009
Seeing what you think
you will see
I am a High School Art
teacher, and I have been reading your newsletter for about
one year. I wanted to share a story with you about
A few years ago my computer
printer had a meltdown. One of the things it did was print
out a full page of dots, in a sort of sloppy
At that time, "Magic Eye" art work posters
were popular, the type of illustrations that look like
colored dots but if you stare at them a 3D image
eventually pops out. Remember?
Anyway, my students
immediately started trying to "guess" what was in the
picture. They were seeing all sorts of things that weren't
I decided to run a contest. I
first asked my classes, "How many of you think that you actually
see and can identify what is front of your
course everyone thinks that they do.)
I then explained that one
of the difficulties of drawing accurately is that we make
it too hard by thinking that drawing is too complex.
If we just look at what is in front of us and draw what we
see, we can all draw amazing pictures.
I asked students to look
at the dot picture and I had them write down
exactly what they saw in the picture on a piece of paper. I
cautioned them not to complicate matters, but just to
describe exactly what they saw.
One student in about 100 sees
correctly and writes "a bunch of grey dots." Everyone else sees
cowboys, elephants, etc, etc.
Seeing what you think
you will see has many implications.
Here is my reply:
That's a brilliant and fascinating example of how desperate
the human mind is to make sense of the world -- it projects
a meaning where it can't see one. Pattern recognition make
us feel safe and secure in a random world.
I think that tells us so much about how our beliefs and
superstitions are formulated. It also points to one of the
unconscious drivers of our creativity.
A wonderful exercise is to try and recapture that 'baby
mind' where we just see things exactly as they are, without
reference to memories, without making comparisons, just
seeing with that beautiful open state of wonder that
observes things exactly as they are.
Thank you for writing and sharing your story about
Your students are very lucky to have a teacher like
Wishing you the best of the best,
Walnut: Discover How To
Banish The Inner Moron, Shake Off
the Dust Of Mediocrity and Discover
the Genius You Were Born To
Sign-Up For Wily Walnut's "The Brain
Squeezer" Newsletter and learn to squeeze all
the creative thinking juices from your brain!
Get your juiciest ideas and genius IQ power
Wily Walnut is the headbrain
top resource for unleashing the genius within, becoming
infinitely creative, intelligent and brilliant in all
that you do!
HOME IQ TESTS - CREATIVITY - GENIUS - BRAIN STORMING - SELF-HELP - BRAINTEASERS - WILY WALNUT