Objects of perception

The perception process purposefully selects specific things to look at

We are not however, conscious of every object that comes within our field of vision. The way the fovea prefers to focus on small, changing scenes shows that the perception process purposefully selects specific things to look at. This selection is inevitable, as the brain is not capable of processing all the visual information in the field of view. It also makes sense because not all the information that exists in our environment is necessarily relevant to us.


Visual field (1), preferred visual field (2) and optimum field of vision (3) of a person standing and sitting for vertical visual tasks.

Preferred field of vision for horizontal visual tasks. Preferred angle of view 25°.

The value of any particular information relates to the current activity of the observer. This activity may be work or movement-related or any other activity for which visual information is required. Lighting conditions under which the visual task can be perceived to an optimum degree can be determined from the above-mentioned specific features. It is possible to define ways of lighting which will be ideal for specific activities.


There is another basic need for visual information that goes beyond the specific information required for a particular activity. This is not related to any particular situation, it results from man’s biological need to understand the world especially man’s need to feel safe. To evaluate danger, we must be aware of the structure of the environment. This applies to orientation, weather ,time of day and information relating to other activities occurring in the area. If this information is not available, e.g. in large, windowless buildings, the situation is often considered to be unnatural and oppressive.


In regard to man’s social needs - the need for contact with other people and the need for private space are somewhat contradictory and require careful balance. The focus on which visual information is required is determined by the activities and basic biological needs. Areas likely to provide significant information - on their own or by being highlighted - are perceived first. They attract our attention. The information content of a given object is responsible for its being selected as an object of perception. Importantly, the information content influences the way in which an object is perceived and evaluated.

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