Munsterberg Illusion See Appendix A

MUNSTERBERG'S THEORY OF PERCEPTUAL FLUCTUATIONS. The German-born American applied psychologist Hugo Munsterberg (1863-1916) proposed that in visual-perception experimental situations, participants - when asked to regard a weak, barely-visible light under instructions to report when the light is visible and when it is not -typically show responses that have an alternating character where positive responses (e.g., "the light is visible") alternate with negative responses (e.g., "the light is not visible"). Oscillating behavior of this sort traditionally has been called fluctuation of attention, and may continue in a more or less rhythmical way for many cycles in a given experiment. Fluctuations of behavior occur not only to weak visual stimuli but to weak stimuli in the other senses, as well. Munsterberg 's theory is significant mainly because of his conclusion that fluctuations to visual stimuli are due to changes in accommodation and fixation, even though later studies indicate that accommodation changes do not account exclusively for the oscillations. Other theories of perceptual fluctuations include those of E. Pace who introduced the concept of light adaptation as a determinant of fluctuations, and B. Hammer and C. E. Ferree who added the factor of eye movements as complementary influences to fluctuations. Presumably, eye movements - in causing stimulation to shift to new portions of the retina - operate to restore sensitivity that is diminished, in turn, by adaptation. However, as evidence against eye movement theory in such cases, H. S. Liddell failed to find any relation between eye movements and fluctuations, a fact that was verified later by J. P. Guilford. See also ACCOMMODATION, LAW/PRINCIPLE OF; ADAPTATION, PRINCIPLES/LAWS OF; APPARENT MOVEMENT, PRINCIPLES/THEO-RIES OF; CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORY OF PERCEPTION; EYE-MOVEMENT THEORY; PERCEPTION (I. AND II.), THEORIES OF.

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