MCAT Content / Perception / Perceptual Organization

Perceptual Organization

Topic: Perception

Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information to represent and understand the environment.

The perceptual process is the sequence of psychological steps that a person uses to organize and interpret information from the outside world.

The steps are:
1. Objects are present in the world.
2. A person observes.
3. The person uses perception to select objects.
4. The person organizes the perception of objects.
5. The person interprets the perceptions.
6. The person responds.

The selection, organization, and interpretation of perceptions can differ among different people. Therefore, when people react differently in a situation, part of their behavior can be explained by examining their perceptual process, and how their perceptions are leading to their responses.

In an environment, there are various factors that can be perceived to understand the environment. The depth of an object, for example, is interpreted by several different depth cues from the visual system. Retinal disparity is a binocular depth cue, meaning it requires both eyes. Retinal disparity refers to the fact that each of your eyes receives slightly different information about an object – your brain then uses this disparity to construct a perception of the object’s location in 3-D space. There are additional depth cues that are monocular (meaning they require one eye). These include the retinal height of an object (how high up it is in the visual field), whether there is something occluding the object and how textured an object appears. 

The form of the object by looking at its shape and outline. The motion of the object and its direction. The constancy of the object such as its color, size and shape and if they have changed. 


Practice Questions


Khan Academy

MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Online Flashcards Psychology 25

Practice Exam 4 P/S Section Question 45


Key Points

• The perceptual process consists of six steps: the presence of objects, observation, selection, organization, interpretation, and response.

• Perceptual organization can use information on the shape, size, depth and motion of an object.

• Depth is perceived using both binocular and monocular depth cues.


Key Terms

factor: an integral part

perception: that which is detected by the five senses; that which is detected within consciousness as a thought, intuition, or deduction

perceptual process: the sequence of psychological steps that a person uses to organize and interpret information

depth cue: features of an object that are used by the visual system in the brain to interpret where an object is located in 3-D space

retinal disparity: a binocular depth cue, refers to the fact that each eye receives slightly different information about an object based on the distance between them



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