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Perception, Sensation, oss0152
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Education Standards

Sensation & Perception - Course Map & Recommended Resources


How to Use this Guide

This guide provides information and resources on teaching sensation concepts in an Introduction to Psychology course. All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded or added to a Course Management System (LMS) via the hyperlinks.

  • According to the TAG, Sensation falls within Pillar 1 (Biological) and is an optional topic for Ohio Introduction to Psychology courses, along with the required topic of  Biology of Behavior. Perception falls under Pillar 2 (Cognitive), and is an optional topic for Ohio Introduction to Psychology courses, along with the required topic of Memory.  Together, these topics meet the APA recommendations for Strengthening General Psychology (Gurung, et al., 2016).


This section introduces students to the basic processes of sensation and perception.

Learning Objectives

  1. Define sensation
  2. Explain absolute and difference thresholds
  3. Define perception
  4. Distinguish between bottom up and top down processing
  5. Understand sensory adaptation
  6. Understand selective attention, sustained attention, and executive attention
  7. Explain inattentional blindness
  8. Understand signal detection theory
  9. Identify all senses and associated sensory receptors
  10. Distinguish between rods and cones
  11. Explain theories of color vision
    1. Trichromatic theory and opponent process theory
  12. Understand depth perception
  13. Explain perceptual constancies including size, color, brightness

Cross Cutting Themes


  1. Given what is known about the negative impact of blue light exposure on our visual system (among other things), should electronics manufacturers strive to make their products safer?
  2. How can inattentional blindness affect eyewitness testimony?


  1. How can the information we know about the effect of certain wavelengths of light on the visual system to make digital device screens safer?
  2. Discuss how perception research can help us understand why we are fooled by magicians.
  3. Why do we think we can multitask effectively, when research suggests just the opposite?
  4. How can (or has) the automobile industry address safety concerns surrounding auditory or visual distractions that may result from cell phone use while driving?

Variations in Human Functioning

  1. Discuss how individuals with visual or hearing impairments might use their other senses to compensate.
  2. Are some people better at multitasking than others?

Cultural and Social Diversity

  1. Discuss ways in which culture influences the perception of illusions.

Recommended Resources

Sensation versus Perception

This is a link to the OpenStax textbook chapter on Sensation and Perception.  It covers basic information related to all of the learning objectives mentioned above, but without a lot of depth.  A good overview, but may need to be supplemented with other material.

Failures of Awareness: The Case of Inattentional Blindness

This is a link to excellent information regarding inattentional blindness.  

Sensation & Perception: Activities to Enhance Learning

Another option for a chapter on sensation & perception.  This one is from the University of Minnesota.

Supplemental Resources

Sensation & Perception (Video)

Here is a short Crash Course video that covers the basics of sensation & perception.

Color Vision: Trichromatic and Opponent Process Theories (Video)

This is a great YouTube video that explains how color vision works, and covers both trichromatic and opponent-process theories.  

Percieving is Believing (Video)

This video talks about perception.  

Distracted Driving: The Multi-Tasking Myth (Video)

Here is a nice video that talks about the myth of multi-tasking.  

Gestalt Principles of Perception - With Examples (Video)

This is a great resource that describes and illustrates the Gestalt principles.  

Class Activities