Unit 4 sensation and perception, motivation and emotion

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Absolute threshold

Difference threshold (JND)

  • Weber’s law

Sensory adaptation

Selective attention

Signal detection theory

Subliminal stimulation (messages)

Parts of the eye (including order light transmitted)

  • fovea

Visual receptors

  • rods/cones/bipolar/ganglion


Color theories

  • Young-Helmholtz (trichromatic)

  • opponent-process

Feature detectors

Parallel processing

Parts of the ear (including order waves conducted)


  • conduction

  • sensorineural (nerve)

Pitch theories

  • place theory

  • frequency theory

Noise induced hearing loss

  • decibels (high/loud) = lessened ability to hear high hertz (high pitch)

Olfactory receptors

Smell and memory

Touch sensations

Gate-control theory (substance P)


Vestibular sense (including where it is located)

Sensory interaction
Top-down processing

Bottom-up processing

Perceptual organization

Perceptual set

  • schemas

Gestalt theory (main idea)

  • similarity, figure ground, closure,

proximity, continuity
Monocular/binocular depth perception

  • linear perspective/interposition

  • retinal disparity/convergence

Motivation and sources of motivation

Biological, emotional, cognitive, social





Theories of Motivation

  1. Instincts and Evolutionary

  • Problems with this theory (especially with humans)?

    • Not as common with humans as are with other species

   2.  Drives

  • Drive-reduction theory:  states that motivation arises from imbalances in homeostasis (constant internal state)

    • the imbalance in homeostasis creates a need (biological requirement for well-being)

    • the brain responds to such needs by creating drive (psychological state of arousal that prompts an organism to take action, restore balance and reduce the drive)

    • remember…drives PUSH us to satisfy our needs

   3.  Incentives

  • Incentive theory:  states that behavior is directed toward attaining desirable stimuli and avoiding unwanted stimuli

    • Value of an incentive is influenced by both biological and cognitive factors

   4.  Optimum Arousal

  • Arousal theories:  state that people are motivated to behave in ways that maintain what is, for them, an optimal level of arousal

    • Your level of arousal can be measured by electrical activity in your brain, heart rate or muscle tension

    • People perform best when arousal is moderate

    • Generally people try to increase arousal when to low or decrease when too high– level is different for all people

   5.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

lower needs must be met 1st   


Lateral and ventral hypothalamus

External incentives

Taste preference
Anorexia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa

Binge eating disorder



Master and Johnson

Sexual response cycle
Sexual Orientation

Intrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation

Emotions:  feelings that generally have both physiological and cognitive elements and that influence behavior

  • Theories of emotions

      • James-Lange Theory

      • Cannon-Bard Theory

      • Schachter-Singer (Two-Factor) Theory

  • Must cognition precede emotion?

      • Zajonc – argues that emotional reactions can be quicker than our interpretations of a situation…so we feel before we think

        • Research on neurological processes support this idea – some neural pathways involved in emotion bypass the cortical areas involved in thinking

      • Lazarus – argues that while our brain does process a lot unconsciously, even instantaneously felt emotions require some sort of cognitive appraisal of the situation – otherwise, how do we KNOW what we are responding to

        • Appraisal may be effortless and may not be conscious of it, but it is still happening


How do we express emotions?

  • Cultural universals

    • Ekman – people speak and understand pretty much the same “facial language” around the world

      • Emotional “facial” universals

  • Cultural differences

    • Huge differences across cultures in both the context and intensity of the emotional displays


  • Stressor – a stressful stimulus, a condition demanding adaptation

    • Stress:  the physical and mental changes that occur in response to a challenging or threatening situation

      • 4 major components to the stress response

        • Cognitive appraisal

        • Physiological response

        • Subjective feelings

        • Behavior

      • Stress is NOT just another emotion

    • Types of stressors

      • Catastrophic events

      • Life changes/strains

      • Chronic stressors

      • Daily hassles

    • The Physical Stress Response

      • Fight-or-flight response – sequence of internal processes preparing an organism to struggle or escape

      • Seyle – General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) – a three-stage pattern of responses triggered by the effort to adapt to any stressor

            • If stressor persists over long period…this initially adaptive alarm reaction can become distress as it depletes body’s energy and defense resources

        • Stage 2 = resistance

            • Resistance only applies to the original stressor – if another stressor is introduced, organisms defenses could be so depleted that it would be unable to respond to second stressor

        • Stage 3 = exhaustion

    • Stress and the Immune System

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