Depends On Who You Ask

Today is the last day of our week-long foray into perception research and optical illusions!

I hope you enjoyed it- we all need a distraction right now! I LOVED hearing from you this week! Here are some things I heard:

  • The girl I can get to go back and forth by willing the foot back and forth. Have no idea how it works since the head also shifts with each way it turns. My answer is sorcery. It is sorcery. lol Will have to keep working on the dress. 🙂
  • Your daily catalyst today was wild!!! I was so solidly in the gold and could not stop trying until the FaceTime call with a patient. When the call was over I still had your post open on the screen and the thing was blue and black. Unbelievable.
  • IT’S YANNY. YANNY I TELL YOU! I can’t find Darth Vader.
  • I am trying to keep a positive perspective on this whole pandemic. These visual examples are a fun reminder of that!

It has been a fun reminder for me, too.

Perception research is “basic” research in cognitive psychology, meaning it isolates a single piece of the human experience and tries to figure it out without all the chaos that comes along with looking at a human in context. That kind of “messy” research is called “Applied Cognitive Psychology.”

I am, officially, an applied cognitive psychologist.

Now, if you’ve watched ANY Big Bang Theory you know that there are divisions between basic researchers (ie, Sheldon, the “Theoretical Physicist”) and the applied researchers (aka, Leonard, the “Applied Physicist”). So why would a die-hard applied researcher (me) devote an entire week on her blog to a “basic” topic?

Because understanding what’s fundamentally possible opens up our vision of what’s possible in real, complex life. When things are true at the basic level, they hold true when you push up into the chaos of our massively constructed lives… we just have to look for it.

The chaotic, applied level of perception is “perspective:” The points of view, stances, and mindsets that we use to view and understand our world.

When you combine perspectives in the real world you get stories.

And stories are the most human thing of all (after fear).

Here are two perspectives shifting stories to occupy you this weekend.

Sliding Doors

can you have two different perspectives

Sliding Doors, though not a movie I’ve seen too many times, is a movie I think about a lot.

The premise of this movie is that a single moment can change everything. The woman in this movie misses a train… and doesn’t miss a train… and then the movie moves forward in parallel: What happens when she misses the train? What happens when she makes it?

Wildly different realities unfold.

This movie got a lot of press because it captured so many people’s imagination and perspectives. “What’s your sliding doors moment?” we asked, captivated by the idea that things could be different if we just missed our trains.

But I always felt like that missed the most important point.

What I like about Sliding Doors is that it helps us to see that both realities are possible the whole dang time. Isn’t it about perspectives? It was just that in one reality, she wasn’t choosing to see it.

  • How can we choose to see what will delight us?
  • How can we choose to see what we need?
  • How can we choose the life we want?

Unfair Science Fair

Phineas and Ferb is a children’s show that my family loves with the fire of a thousand suns. You might also like it if you enjoy smart children’s shows with easter eggs for the parents. It’s full of earnest, artistic, musical scientists just trying to enjoy their summer vacation.

Plus, there’s a whole song about having squirrels in your pants! <- If this does not sound like a good thing, it might be best to stick to Sliding Doors.

Unfair Science Fair is a two-part episode- the last of the first season. In it, you get the same story from two perspectives.

(You can watch on youtube, but if you happen to have a Disney Plus account, you have every episode nicely prepared with no commercials.)

is your perspective reality

Unlike Sliding Doors which pushes our thinking about our own reality, Unfair Science Fair reminds us that people who don’t see what you see, don’t know what you know.

They couldn’t. And there is no other way.

In my opinion, the world needs a strong dose of that truth.

We need forgiveness.

We need understanding.

We need solidarity.

And we just might need Phineas and Ferb.

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About the Author Amanda

Amanda Crowell, PhD is a cognitive psychologist obsessed with how people make change. She is best known for translating cutting edge research into practical strategies that can be used right away.

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