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Mind Seeks Detail

 

Explanations > Perception > Visual Perception > Mind Seeks Detail

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

When we are looking at the world, we seek shapes that we can identify as recognizable patterns. When we can name a shape, we may stop looking further, yet we often continue to examine the item, looking for and at further detail that could give us more information. This includes hues, sub-shapes, texture, light and dark, and so on.

The examination of detail continues the hierarchy. After outlines we look at parts (such as a bird's wing, beak, etc.) and surfaces (such as the hues on the bird's wing or breast). The more detail we examine, the more accurate we can be in our assessment, such as naming the species and gender of the bird.

Example

A person looks at an attractive other person, examining their dress and body for signs that increase their desirability. They ignore the detail of other people who are of less interest.

I look at a car. It looks like mine, so I look further, examining the detail of the model, age and so on.

Discussion

Visual examination is a hierarchical process. First we look at overall shapes, then we look at successively further detail. The process may also potentially be abandoned at any stage. This is a bit like newspaper articles where we scan the headlines and perhaps read a bit more or even the full article. When we are confident in the outline of we have seen, we may conclude that it is of no further interest and hence move on to more interesting items. However, if we are not confident in our identification, if it may be of interest, or if it could be a threat, we look further at it, seeking detail that can help a more accurate assessment.

So what?

When presenting a visual image, add sufficient detail of key items to hold attention. You can also draw attention to subtle detail in text by describing such as exciting new features.

See also

Attention principle, Fragmentation principle

 

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