2.1 Sensation: Definition and Sensory Process

All the knowledge of external world reaches us through our various sense organs vision, hearing, taste, touch smell and other senses. Sensation is caused when some stimuli is picked up by our senses. In our body there are receptors in the eye, ear, nose, etc.

·       Dr. A. Jean Ayree - Sensation is the process of detecting and encoding stimulus energy in the world

·       Seema Singh- The state of awareness which result when a sense organ is stimulated and which cannot be analyzed into any elements.    

·       Douglas & Holland- The term sensation is used to describe the simplest of all conscious experiences.  

Nature of sensation

  A sensation is the simplest form of cognition. It is a simple impression produced in the mind by a stimulus.

  The impression is conducted by sensory nerve to a sensory centre in the brain, then it is experienced as a sensation.

  Sensations are simple impression of sensory qualities.

  Sensations are the most elementary processes of cognition.

Attributes/ characters of sensation

General characters of sensation some time called attributes of sensation. These characters are:

·       Quality: sensation differs in quality. Sensation is colours, sounds, tastes, smells, heat and cold differ from one another in quality.

·       Intensity: Sensation of the same quality may differ intensity. All sensation differ in intensity lights, sounds, taste, smells, temperature, pain, pressure, hunger, thrust, fatigue, etc. the other conditions remaining the same greater intensities of stimuli produce greater intensities of sensation.

·       Duration (Protensity): every sensation has a sensible duration. A sensation may linger in the mind for certain duration. The sound which last five seconds feels differently when it cases from a sound which lasts twenty seconds. This is a difference in duration. Duration is also called potensity or protensive magnitive.

·       Extensity: visual and tactual sensation has extensity. Extensity differs from intensity. Extensity is differ from extension. Extensity is an attribute of sensations. Extension is an attribute of material bodies. Extension of a body can be measured in inches, feet, etc. but extensity of sensation cannot be measured in this way. Extensity is also called ‘extensiveness’, ‘voluminousness’, ‘diffusion’, or ‘spreadoutness’

·       Local sign: local sign is a peculiar attribute which distinguishes a sensation of one part of extended sense organs. It is due to the particular locality of the sense organs stimulated, extensity is due to the extent or area of sensitive surface stimulated. Local sign is also called local signature or local colouring.

Types of sensation

The brain continuously receives sensory information during our waking hours. Vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste are obvious sensory channels through which we process input. We also manage upright posture and orientation in space as part of our kinesthetic sense.

Scientists have classified five types of sensations. These are visual (eye), auditory (ear), olfactory (nose), gustatory (tongue), and coetaneous (skin).

1.    The Visual System: We see a world of shapes and size, some stationary, others moving, some in black and white, others in colour. How do we see this way? What is the machinery that enables us to experience this marvelous landscape.

Vision: Perception and Sensation | AP Psych Alternate Assignment

2.    The Auditory System: just as light provides us with information about the environment, so does sound. We things only when they are before us but we can hear a sound even if the object producing the sound is behind us or in other room. Hearing is very important for us as a means of spoken communication.

The sense of hearing

3.    Olfactory System: the degree of importance of sensation for different species varies. Sensation of smell plays very species who depend on it a great deal to perceive the external world. Because of this, a large proportion of their brain is dedicated and devoted to perception and recognition of smell sensation. Thought its importance it means life is comparatively lesser, it cannot be altogether ignored. The receptor of smell sensation is located in nasal passage. Sensory signal for smell are sent to olfactory bulb situated below the frontal lobe of cortex. Olfactory sensation also plays an important role in the sensation of taste as well.


4.    Gustatory System: receptors of taste sensation are small taste buds found on the tip, sides and back of the tongue. An adult has about 10, 000 buds for each of the four principal- taste, sweet, sour saline and bitter. Different part of the tongue are sensitive to different tastes. The tip of the tongue is very sensitive to sweet and salty tastes the back to bitter taste and the sides to sour and saline taste. The taste sensation of children is taste buds decrease with age that is why in adults the middle part of tongue partly loses taste sensitivity. Taste sensitivity differs from individual to individual.

Week 3: Taste and smell: 4 Taste (gustation) - OpenLearn - Open ...

5.    Coetaneous System: the skin not only protects us against injury, but contains nerve endings that procedure sensation of pressure, pain, warmth and cold. Taken together, these are called coetaneous sense. Skin- sensitivity of the skin changes from time to time as the temperature of cells relating to skin changes as very short intervals. There are separate receptors for sensation of cold and warm. These are small spots on the skin which get sensitive only to cold or warm stimuli. Constant stimulation by cold or hot stimulus is adapted by our body.


Factor That Affect Sensation


  Developmental stage





2.2 Attention: Definition and Affecting Factors

We use the word “attention” frequently in our day to day conversation. During lectures in the classroom, a teacher calls for your attention to what he is saying or what he writes on the blackboard. At a railway station or public places announcements start with “your attention please” before informing the passengers about the schedules of the trains. Thus attention is taken as a power, capacity or faculty of our mind, which can be turned on or off at will or something in kind or form that can be lent or given to this or that situation.

Dumville (1938)- Attention is the concentration of consciousness upon one subject rather than upon another.

Ross (1951)- Attention is the process of getting an object of thought clearly before the mind.

Attention is a central process and perception is not possible without attentional processes. That means attention precedes perception. Attentional processes serve various functions in the organization of our perceptions and other cognitive functions.

The various functions of attention are :

  Alerting function: Attention in this sense refers to a state of focused awareness with readiness to respond (e.g., if asked some question). Distraction occurs when some interference (e.g. loud noise) prevents the individual to continue with the ongoing task. 

  Selective function:  Selectivity refers to a process by which attention is focused on stimulus or stimuli of ongoing interest and other stimuli are ignored. Selective attention acts as a filter, that allows some information in and the other (unwanted) out.

  Limited capacity channel: It has been established through research that we have limited capacity to process information that is available in the outside world. That is, tasks that require attentional resources cannot be carried out simultaneously because we have limited capacity to process the incoming information. We process the task one at a time, called serial processing.

  Vigilance: Maintaining attention on a task continuously, for some time, like looking at the radar screen, is called vigilance or sustained attention.

Factors of Attention

The External Factors

  Intensity: The intensity of the stimulus is a condition of attention.

  Size of the stimulus: In the case of visible object, a big size an advantage over a small size.

  Striking quality: A striking quality of the stimulus has a distinct advantage apart from its intensity.

  Movement: Movement involves change, it is a distinct factor of advantage. A  moving object easily attracts attention.

  Contrast: Contrast is a condition of attention.

  Repetition: Repetition as a factor of advantage. If a stimulus is repeated, it is likely to draw our attention

The Internal Factors

  Interest: Interest is a main determinant of attention. We attend to those things which interest us.

  Novelty: Novelty is a condition of attention because it evokes interest in a person. The child is attracted by a new toy, a new coat, a new motor car, a new dress

  Rareness: Rareness also is a condition of attention because it evokes interest. The Tajmahal attracts one’s attention because it is rare and evokes one’s interest

  Instincts: Attention follows the lead of instincts. When the cat is hungry, it attends to mice.

  Emotion: Attention is determined by emotions. A lover attends only to the good qualities of his beloved. A person attends only to the bad qualities of his enemy

  Habit and Education: Habit and education determine attention. Training and previous experience facilitate attention.

2.3 Perception: Definition and Types

We live and deal with a three dimensional world which contains objects of different shapes and forms, sizes, and colours. Generally, our experience of the external world is quite accurate and error free. However, we do encounter illusions (e.g. perceiving a rope in the night as snake). To survive and live in this world we must get accurate information from our environment. This information is gathered by our sense organs, ten in all. Eight of these are external (vision, audition, smell, taste, touch, warmth, cold, and pain) and two internal or deep senses (e.g., vestibular and kinesthetic).

Perception can be defined as our recognition and interpretation of sensory information. Perception also includes how we respond to the information. We can think of perception as a process where we take in sensory information from our environment and use that information in order to interact with our environment. Perception allows us to take the sensory information in and make it into something meaningful.

Hence, perception may be defined as “a process of interpretation of a present stimulus on the basis of past experience”.

Perception of Shapes

Figure-ground Relationship:

According to this principle any figure can be perceived more meaningfully in a background and that figure cannot be separated from that background. For example, letters written with a white chalk piece are perceived clearly in the background of a blackboard.

Reversible Configurations

In the Figure, two faces can be seen in the background of a white colour. So also the white background can be perceived as a vessel in the background of two faces.

The determinants of figure-ground relationship

  Proximity: Proximity means nearness. The objects which are nearer to each other can be perceived meaningfully by grouping them. For example, the word ‘Man’, here though the letters are discrete, when grouped together gives some meaning. The stars in the Figure which are nearer to each other are perceived together as groups/single figure.


  Similarity: Stimuli need not be nearer to each other for perception. If there is similarity in these objects, they are grouped together and perceived, even if they are away. For example, in this Figure grouping will be done according to similarity, i.e. all circles, squares and triangles are grouped separately.


  Continuity: Any stimulus which extends in the same direction or shape will be perceived as a whole Figure A and B. For example, (A) in this figure though the curved line is broken, it is perceived as a continuous line, so also straight line is not seen with semicircles but as a continuous line (B) the dots are perceived as existing in the same line of direction continuously.


  Closure: When a stimulus is presented with gaps, the human tendency is to perceive that figure as complete one by filling the gaps psychologically. For example, in the Figure 3.6, the gaps are filled psychologically and perceived as letters M and A, circle and a rectangle.


  Symmetry: Objects which are having symmetrical shape are perceived as groups. For example, the brackets of different shapes shown in the Figure 3.7 perceived meaningfully, because they are grouped together and perceived as brackets.



Perception of Space

Perception of space also refers to the perception of size and distance. The problem emerges from the fact that the image of the three dimensional world is projected on the two dimensional retina. This raises the question: From the two dimensional image, how do we perceive the three dimensional world? Or in other words how do we perceive depth and distance? The problem of space perception is depicted in Figure

  Distance: This refers to the absolute spatial extent (D) between the observer and the object.

  Depth: It is the Relative spatial extent between two objects as viewed by the observer.

  Size: the object has a physical size (S) that is out there. The individual perceives this, it is called perceived size (S’).

  Cues: It is interesting to understand that we perceive depth and distance with the help of various cues available to us. These cues may be divided into three categories

i.                   Non- Visual Cues: Accommodation and Convergence are the two non-visual cues. These cues are called 'non-visual' because they do not emanate from the retinal image, as is the case with other cues.

ii.                Binocular Cues: Binocular cues, unlike the two cues discussed above, emanate from the retinal image itself.

iii.             Monocular Cues: Monocular Cues are also called pictorial cues because they include the kind of depth information found in the photographs and paintings. These cues are extensively used by the artists in their paintings.

Extrasensory Perception (ESP):

However, there is another type of perception in which perception is organized without the involvement of senses, called Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP). As the word denotes, extra sensory perception is perception without (physical) stimulation. Extra sensory perception includes phenomenon like telepathy, clairvoyance, and telekinesis.

  Telepathy: It refers to transfer of thought between two persons at different places.

  Clairvoyance: Perceiving objects and events without the involvement of senses.

  Telekinesis: Controlling objects without touching them.

This is otherwise known as sixth sense in common man’s view.

Factors Affecting Perception:

At any particular time there are many competing stimuli out there which will gain our attention and result in perceptual organization. The stimulus characteristics are important, as are our own internal needs, motivations, and our specific sociocultural back ground in which we have been reared. All these factors, stimulus variables and internal factors peculiar to an individual, determine how our perceptions are organized.

i.                   Context and Set-effects: A given stimulus may provide radically different perceptions because of the immediate context. The context creates an expectation in our brain (top-down phenomenon) that influences our perception at a particular moment. For example, in noisy conditions you are verbally provided with a sentence “eel is moving”. You will perceive the word “eel” as "wheel" because of the context provided by the later part of the sentence.

Perceptual sets also influence our perceptions. Perceptual set refers to our mental expectancies and predispositions to perceive one thing and not another. Perceptual set can influence what we hear as well as what we see.

ii.                Needs and motives: Personal variables, like needs, emotions, values, personality, etc. influence our perceptions. For example two men, a hungry and another thirsty, go to a restaurant and the waiter hands over to each a menu for obtaining order. It was found that, at a quick glance, the hungry man could see eatable items in the menu and the thirsty drinks. This example supports the hypothesis that need states of individuals affect their perceptions. It has been found that emotions, motivation, and personality factors influence our perceptions.

iii.             Social and Cultural factors: Perceptual learning and development takes place in the context of socio-cultural environment. Our perceptions reflect the effect of past learning and, therefore, if learning and socialization takes place in a particular socio-cultural background it will be reflected in our perceptions.

Errors in Perception:

As seen above perception is process of analysing and understanding a stimulus as it is. But it may not be always possible to perceive the stimuli as they are. Knowingly or unknowingly, we mistake the stimulus and perceive it wrongly.

There are two kinds of errors:

  Illusion: Illusions are misperceptions resulting from misinterpretation of sensory information. Illusions are also known as false perceptions. For example, if there is a thick rope lying on one side in the dark, it could be perceived as a snake. Illusion is a normal phenomenon which is perceived by all human beings and animals.

Geometrical Illusions: there are quite a few illusions that can be demonstrated by drawing some lines, these are called geometrical illusions. The most famous is Muller-lyer illusion. See figure for some geometrical illusions.

  Hallucination: Sometimes we come across instances where the individual perceives some stimulus, even when it is not present. This phenomenon is known as hallucination. The person may see an object, person, etc. or he may listen to some voice though there are no objects and sounds in reality.



2.4 Memory, Thinking, and Problem Solving           

Learning is a process of acquisition of knowledge which is stored in the brain ready for recall at a later stage. The process where in information is stored and recalled or reproduced later for long term benefits is called memory.

In our day to day life we need the ability to remember names, experiences skills are all vital for the success achieved in later life. Hence memory is a necessary skills, which is associated with the intellectual abilities in man.

Woodworth and Marquis - “Memory is mental power which consists in learning, retaining and remembering what has previously been learnt”

Levin-  “Memory is giant filing cabinet in the brain”    

Nature of memory

l  Capacity to hold to new information

l  Ability to remember past experiences

l  Storage of previously learned experiences

l  Ability to recognize

l  Awareness of our surroundings

l  Assists in learning in similar materials

Components of memory

l   Learning: Learning is the change or modification of behaviour through activities, experiences & conditions of learning.

l   Retention or storage: Retention, in learning, is the ability to retain facts and figures in memory.

The process of retaining appears to be passive but is not wholly so.  A good amount of mental activity goes on in connection with the process of retention

l   Recall or Retrieval: We learn in order to recall that when we need.

Failure to recall learned material would mean that our learning process has not been used to full and effective.

l   Recognition: Parallel to recall, recognition is another factor in the process of memory.

Recognition is of awareness of previous experience. It is complete familiarity without any mistake.

Types of memory

STM-Short Term Memory: Short-term memories are slightly less passing than sensory memories, but they still get dismissed after a few minutes. The label is quite apt, given their function. Short-term memory is the part of our brains that holds onto information until we need to recall it. If we make mental lists before we run to Target, it's our short-term memory that will help us recall the fabric softener or the folding chair.

Short-term memory, often interchanged with the term "working memory," is very temporary. It has a low capacity, as the information being processed will either be quickly dismissed, or entered into our long-term memory bank. It's sort of the precursor to long-term memory, which has many distinct facets with varied functionality.

LTM- Long Term Memory: Long-term memory is the brain's system for storing, managing, and recalling information. It is very complex with different functionality. As sensory memories only flicker for less than a second and short-term memories last only a minute or two, long-term memories include anything from an event that occurred five minutes ago to something from 20 years ago.

There are many different forms of long-term memories. Sometimes they're conscious, requiring us to actively think in order to recall a piece of information. Other times they're unconscious, simply appearing without an active attempt at recollection, like remembering the route from home to work without actively thinking about it.

Implicit memory: Sometimes referred to as "unconscious memory," implicit memory includes the retention of information from a moment in time that can't specifically be recalled. 

Remote memory: Remote memory is the ability to remember things and events from many years earlier. This is a function of long-term memory which the brain stores differently than recent or short-term memories. Short-term memories are stored in different areas of the brain than long-term memories.

Rote memory: Rote memory is associated with recalling factual information or data. Rote memory generally entails memory for material without much reference to the meaning, emotions, or to the context to which it is associated. The major practice in rote memorization is learning by repetition or routine, without full comprehension or attention to what is being memorized.

Episodic memory: A form of declarative memory, this includes an ability to remember firsthand experiences from your life.

Sensory memory: Sensory memory is our shortest form of memory. It's very fleeting - no more than a flash. Sensory memory acts as a buffer for stimuli received through the five senses. These images are accurately retained, but only for a brief moment in time, typically less than half a second.

Storage | Introduction to Psychology


Thought or thinking is a mental process which allows beings to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires. Words referring to similar concepts and processes include cognitionsentienceconsciousnessidea, and imagination.

Ross: “Thinking is a mental activity in its cognitive aspect or mental activity with regard to psychological aspects”.

Garrett:“Thinking is a behaviour which is often implicit and hidden and in which symbols are ordinarily employed”.

Thinking can be classified as follows:

  Perceptual or Concrete Thinking:

This is the simplest form of thinking the basis of this type is perception, i.e. interpretation of sensation according to one’s experience. It is also called concrete thinking as it is carried out on the perception of actual or concrete objects and events.

  Conceptual or Abstract Thinking:

Here one makes use of concepts, the generalized objects and languages, it is regarded as being superior to perceptual thinking as it economizes efforts in understanding and problem-solving.

  Reflective Thinking:

This type of thinking aims in solving complex problems, thus it requires reorganization of all the relevant experiences to a situation or removing obstacles instead of relating with that experiences or ideas.

  Creative Thinking:

This type of thinking is associated with one’s ability to create or construct something new, novel or unusual. It looks for new relationships and associations to describe and interpret the nature of things, events and situations. Here the individual himself usually formulates the evidences and tools for its solution. For example; scientists, artists or inventors.

  Critical Thinking:

It is a type of thinking that helps a person in stepping aside from his own personal beliefs, prejudices and opinions to sort out the faiths and discover the truth, even at the expense of his basic belief system.

  Non-directed or Associative Thinking:

There are times when we find ourselves engaged in a unique type of thinking which is non-directed and without goal. It is reflected through dreaming and other free-flowing uncontrolled activities. Psychologically these forms of thought are termed as associative thinking.

Problem solving

Skinner (1968)- Problem solving is a process of overcoming difficulties that appear to interfere with the attainment of a goal. It is a procedure of making adjustment in spite of interferences.

Woodworth(1948)- Problem solving behavior occurs in noel or difficult situations in which a solution is not obtainable by the habitual methods of applying concepts and principles derived from past experience in very similar situations.

Steps in Effective Problem-solving Behaviour

1.     Problem awareness

2.     Problem-understanding.

3.     Collection of the relevant information.

4.     Formulation of hypotheses or hunch for possible solutions.

5.     Selection of the correct solution.

6.     Verification of the concluded solution or hypothesis.


2.5 Motivation: Nature, Definition and Maslow’s Theory

The term ‘motivation’ has been derived from the word ‘Motive’ Motive may be define as an inner state of our mind that activates and direct our behavior. It makes us move to act. It is always internal to us and is externalized via our behavior. Motivation is one’s willingness to exert efforts toward the accomplished of his/her goal.

Fred Luthans define motivation as a “process that start with a physiological or psychological deficiency or need that activities behavior or a drive that is aimed at a goal or incentive”

Stephen P. Robbins -“Motivation is the willingness to exert high level of efforts toward orgnisational goal, conditioned by the effort ability to satisfy some individual need” 

Characteristics of motivation

l  Energy Mobilization

l  Persistence

l  Variability

l  Restlessness for the attainment of the goal

l  Extinction of restlessness after the attainment of goal

Motivation cycle of process

Motivation is a process or cycle aimed at accomplishing some goals. The basic elements includes in the process are motives, goals and behavior. 

Motives: Almost all human behavior is motivated. It require no motivation to grow hair, but motivational process a hair cut does. Motive prompt people to action. Hence, these are at the very heart of motivational process. Motives provide an activating trust toward reaching a goal

Goals: Motives are generally directed toward the goals. Motives generally create a state of physiological and psychological imbalance. Attaining goals restores balance. For example, a goal exists when the body of the man is deprived of food or water or one’s personality is derived of friends or companies.

Behavior: It is a series of activities to be undertaken. Behavior is directed to achieve a goal. For example, the men goes to saloon to cut his hair. 

Malsow’ s Theory

Hierarchy of human need Categories in two types

  Deficiency needs 

  Growth needs

Inverting the Maslovian Hierarchy of Needs | Grand Strategy: The ...

Deficiency needs

  Physiological : Hunger, thirst, bodily, comfort, etc.

  Safety/security : out of danger

  Belonginess and love : affiliate with others, be accepted

  Esteem : to achieve, gain approval, recognition

Growth needs

  Cognitive : to know, to understand, to explore

  Aesthetic : symmetry, order, and beauty

  Self-actualization : to find self fulfillment, and realizes one’s potentialities

  Self transcendence : to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potentialities

The original hierarchy of needs five-stage model includes:

Maslow (1943, 1954) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others.

Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.

  Physiological needs - these are biological requirements for human survival, e.g. air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, sleep.

If these needs are not satisfied the human body cannot function optimally. Maslow considered physiological needs the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.

  Safety needs - Once an individual’s physiological needs are satisfied, the needs for security and safety become salient. People want to experience order, predictability and control in their lives. These needs can be fulfilled by the family and society (e.g. police, schools, business and medical care).

For example, emotional security, financial security (e.g. employment, social welfare), law and order, freedom from fear, social stability, property, health and wellbeing (e.g. safety against accidents and injury).

  Love and belongingness needs - after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, the third level of human needs is social and involves feelings of belongingness. The need for interpersonal relationships motivates behavior

Examples include friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).

  Esteem needs are the fourth level in Maslow’s hierarchy - which Maslow classified into two categories: (i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and (ii) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g., status, prestige).

Maslow indicated that the need for respect or reputation is most important for children and adolescents and precedes real self-esteem or dignity.

  Self-actualization needs refer to the realization of a person's potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. Maslow (1943) describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.

Individuals may perceive or focus on this need very specifically. For example, one individual may have a strong desire to become an ideal parent. In another, the desire may be expressed economically, academically or athletically. For others, it may be expressed creatively, in paintings, pictures, or inventions.

Maslow's (1962) hierarchy of needs theory has made a major contribution to teaching and classroom management in schools. Rather than reducing behavior to a response in the environment, Maslow (1970a) adopts a holistic approach to education and learning.

Maslow looks at the complete physical, emotional, social, and intellectual qualities of an individual and how they impact on learning.