Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972000 | Print ISBN: 9781412940818 | Online ISBN: 9781412972000| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Individual Differences in Perception
Our individual views of the universe may be different from one another's because we each encounter only one small part of what is there. The ancient Hindu parable of the six blind men and the elephant—wherein each man describes only the part of the elephant he is touching, forming an incomplete representation of the whole—is an illustration of such individual differences. The elephant, a metaphor for the universe, is perceived by one man as a snake (because he feels the trunk), by another as a tree (because he feels the leg), and so on. However, individual differences in perception are not usually as large as the differences between the six blind men's percepts of the elephant. The differences are not so large because perception is a complex phenomenon resulting from multiple small effects, such as many different genes and accumulated experiences, acting mostly separately. When a large number of small ...