Vision Res.(04) Dickinson

Ways of Seeing Visual Perception: Physiology, Psychology and Ecology Theories of Vision from Al-Kindi to Kepler (Chicago History of Science & Medicine)
Ways of Seeing Visual Perception: Physiology, Psychology and Ecology Theories of Vision from Al-Kindi to Kepler (Chicago History of Science & Medicine)

Research into Visual Perception conducted by Dickinson

From the mid-1920s to the early 1940s the influence of past experience on human visual perception was a popular research area. Many investigators employed arrangements of simple two-dimensional geometrical shapes, sometimes alone and sometimes embedded in more complex forms.

Dickinson undertook a series of detailed experiments into ‘Experience and Visual Perception’ using stimuli consisting of arrangements of letters (alphabetic characters) and playing cards. See for example, C.A.Dickinson, "Experience and visual perception", Am.J.Psychol., Vol.37, pp.330-344 (1926).

His account demonstrated that there are three levels of human visual perception, which were termed:

  • visual pattern
  • generic object
  • specific object

Dickinson did not consider these three levels to be separate and distinct. Instead he considered them to be progressive in nature - one level developing into another. His 1926 paper is among the earliest accounts to distinguish between three levels of perception broadly corresponding to the modern definitions of detection, recognition and identification - a form of classification that is also important in the field of 'Human Factors', as used to develop improved instrumentation and other devices that incorporate visual interfaces.

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This section includes summaries of historial research and theories of human visual perception of simple two-dimensional objects. For more about the human visual system see The Eye, Parts of Eye, Eye & Vision Disorders, Ophthalmological Procedures.

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