Changing the Background Color

In this TED Talk, Beau Lotto explains why context is everything, when it comes to how we see the world:

The idea in a nutshell is this: What we see does not have an inherent meaning — we give it that meaning. The meaning we give what we see is based on what we’ve learned, which is to say, we see things the way we do because it was useful for us to see it that way in the past.

Well, almost.

Sometimes we see things the way we do because it was useful for someone else to have us see it that way — that is to say, someone else who had the power to manipulate the background (or context) within which we are perceiving things.

In every group of individuals — families, organizations, sub-cultures, societies, etc. — there are factors outside an individual’s control that determine how things are seen and understood… especially how they view people who are not members of the group.

Here in another TED Talk, we see one of Beau’s optical illusions employed by Dan Ariely, who uses it as an illustration of the power of context on our perception and ultimately, our decisions:

(note the use of the Principle of Contrast, during the first 2 minutes of his presentation)

As Ariely notes, it’s very easy for us to make mistakes based on a distorted perception… and really hard for us to see the mistake, even after it’s been pointed out to us.

(yeah, I went ahead and snipped out the center squares to confirm it… they’re the same color on both sides… and salmon pink, at that…)

The art of effective living is to really — no, really — assess whether the way we see something is truly in our own best present and future interests. 


About danspira

My blog is at: My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on June 27, 2012, in Information Design, Learning, Marketing, Metaphors, Psychology, Sales and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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