Sensory perception can be defined as the process of receiving stimuli, organizing and interpreting them through our five senses in order to make the meaning of our surrounding environment. According to Brewer (1999), through sensory perceptions, every animal attains awareness of its immediate surrounding through sensory information interpretation for survival purposes.
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In my opinion, human senses are not accurate in interpreting sensory information. One of the reasons for my view is that human sensory perception is limited to what it is interested in. As Brewer points out, human senses only select the stimulus that is of significance from the many stimuli in the surrounding environment. Therefore, the senses do not provide all the possibilities for sensory input. This means that the reality we make from our sensory interpretation is only based on what we select from the surrounding environment. As a result, the sensory information encoded in our memories is not accurate.
The second reason is the variation that exists within the scope of human sensory input capabilities. It is argued that humans despite having the same number of senses, their senses are not uniform. Some people are able to detect some stimuli that others are not able to make any meaning of. In other instances, people perceive the same stimulus differently and hence end up with different interpretations. Due to these variations in human’s sensory receptors, there are inaccuracies with some of the conclusions that are recorded in our brains as sensory information. Therefore, it can be said that sensory information is only accurate to a person depending on one’s sensory interpretation (Ames, 1987).
The other reason as to why I perceive sensory information as inaccurate is the difference that exists between different animals in terms of sensory capabilities. Despite all normal animals having five senses, some can utilize them better than others. Let’s take, for instance, human beings and dogs. A dog can easily differentiate two people depending on their smells while a human being cannot do that. Therefore, it can be concluded that the reality that has been arrived upon through sensory interpretation depends only on human sensory capabilities. As Ames argues, there is a lot that has not been discovered by human beings and it will still remain undiscovered due to human sensory incapability.
There are factors that contribute to the accuracy of sensory data. One of them is the duration of exposure to a certain stimuli. According to Soteriou (2000), the longer a person perceives a stimulus, the higher the accuracy of the sensory data encoded in one’s memory. Enough exposure time enables the sensory receptors to receive and accurately interpret a stimuli, hence, leading to accurate sensory data.
The other factor that enhances the accuracy of sensory data is the age of a person. As Soteriou argues, the sensory interpretation of an adult is more developed compared to that of an infant. Biological research shows that sensory perception is determined by some brain cells. Developed sensory cells enhance the correct interpretation of various stimuli perceived from the surrounding environment, hence, leading to accurate sensory data. Therefore, the age of a person contributes to the accuracy of sensory data that is gained through sensory perception.
Experience and constancy form another factor that contributes to the accuracy of sensory data. As Soteriou points out, the degree of accuracy of sensory perception is determined by the experience of a person or an animal in regard with stimuli perception. Taking for instance a person who has been brought up being constantly taught on how to perceive certain stimuli such as sounds and smells, becomes an expert in interpreting those stimuli. Therefore, experience enhances sensory perception leading to the accuracy of sensory data.
The role of nature and nurture in regard to sensory data interpretation and evaluation has been a hotly debated topic by both scientists and psychologists. It is argued that nature is the source of all the stimuli, which are received and interpreted as sensory data. Sensory data interpretation and evaluation depends on the nature that a person or an animal has been brought up in. Taking, for instance, a person who has been brought up in an urban nature, has got used to traffic noises and other disturbances that the sensory receptors ignore such stimuli. However, a person who has been used to a rural and serene nature will perceive and evaluate traffic sounds and noise and evaluate it as disturbance as he or she is not used to such a nature.
Nurture is another factor that affects sensory data interpretation and evaluation. It is argued that animals, humans included, nurture the way they perceive stimuli from the surrounding environment and interpret it. Through nurturing perceptions, people perceive and interpret objects and messages differently. As Brewer points out, sensory data interpretation and evaluation depend on what beliefs and expectations that have been nurtured in a person. Nurture determines how a person perceives, selects, organizes, interprets and evaluates various stimuli in order to make meaning of the surrounding environment. Therefore, nurture determines the sensory data that is encoded from various stimuli, how it is interpreted and evaluated.
Clearly, sensory perception is varied and depends on an individual and the environment the person lives in.