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Essay on Figure Ground

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Graduate Faculty Psychology Bulletin Volume 2, No. 2, 2004 Examining the Effect of Subliminal Priming on Ambiguous Figure Perception Misa Tsuruta, M.A.1 Abstract ~ Figure-ground organization is a kind of perceptual organization that has been studied in Gestalt psychology. Ambiguous/reversible figures can evoke two different percepts. When we see ambiguous figures, sooner or later our perceptual system determines one side that stands out as the figure, while the other side forms the ground and becomes shapeless. Subjects were subliminally trained with the half-figures of the target 1: Department of Psychology, Graduate Faculty, New School University, New York, USA An extended version of this paper served as partial fullfillment for…show more content…
The phenomenon that a single stimulus elicits two percepts or interpretations has been attributed to various possible causes. These include satiation or neural fatigue, eye movement, preference for novelty, and availability (Rock & Mitchener, 1992; Horlitz & O'Leary, 1993; Long & Olszweski, 1999). Some argue that there is an effect of instruction or the possibility of voluntary control of reversals. Rock and Mitchener (1992) reported that subjects who were not informed of the possibility of reversal failed to perceive reversals. Toppino (2003) examined the effect of intentional control over the reversal of figures and found out that it was possible for observers to intentionally control (i.e. hold one percept) the reversal to some limited extent. In this case, top-down influence may be involved in the perceptual processes. Traditionally, it has been said that perceptual organization and figure-ground organization occured very early in the perceptual processes and are automatic. One of the reasons for this is that it has been considered a pre-attentive process (Neisser, 1967; Vecera, Flevaris, & Filapek, 2004). Peterson (1999) argued that figure-ground organization took place before object recognition. GFPB: 2004 - Vol. 2, No. 2 76 Effect of Subliminal Priming She demonstrated the possible mediation by meaning by comparing the reactions to inverted figures and those to canonical figures.
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