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Does what you can do affect what you see? Paternalistic vision and the El Greco fallacy

Chaz Firestone

Tuesday, November 06, 2012, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

Graduate Program, Yale University, Department of Psychology

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What determines what we see? A tidal wave of recent research purports to have discovered countless circumstances in which otherwise-extraperceptual states such as beliefs, moods, or goals 'penetrate' perceptual processing to literally and directly affect our visual experiences. In this talk, I'll take one of the most extensively researched and influential bodies of work claiming such top-down effects on perception (Proffitt, 2006; Witt, 2011; Proffitt & Linkenauger, in press) as a case study to evaluate these purported threats to the cognitive impenetrability of visual perception, concluding that such work fails to withstand careful scrutiny. I'll also debut a new research strategy — inspired by art history's infamous "El Greco fallacy" — aimed at discovering whether claimed top-down effects on perception are truly perceptual in nature, reporting new results suggesting that they are not.

Chaz Firestone