What is Perceptual Intelligence?


What is Perceptual Intelligence?

Our abilities at perception affect everyone and how we interpret the world around us.  Perceptual skills are an asset to most everyone in every profession because perception involves thinking and problem solving.  Seeing is a form of thinking.

Drawing upon the ideas of the first philosophers in the 17th century who contemplated perception, the indirect theories of cognitive psychologists have concluded that all of our perceptions are ambiguous.  This famous drawing is an example of how we can see one of two different things:

Perception Picture.jpg

A person can either see a rabbit or a duck.  What we see first entirely depends upon our preferences either seeing something from the left to the right or the right to the left.  We need to teach ourselves how to look at things from different ways.  The “top down” theory of perception in cognitive psychology argues we construct meaning from our perceptions through our own filters.  Those filters are our experiences and future expectations, which make up the core of our own personal psychology.  Once we recognize what our filters are, we are able to adjust them by looking at things in new ways. .

I came to this recognition as an art historian and then eventually with my pursuits as a trainer and coach for The Art Trainer.  What is that fundamental talent that makes the best art historians stand out?  What is that basic talent we have that translates into other professions?  The best art historians are original in their thinking.  They see what other people have neglected to see.  This talent amounts to using our skills in observation to analyze what we see and then think outside of the box.  This talent is also crucial for people in business, law, science, and technology, to name a few. 

When we look at a work of art, people often fail to recognize how much there is to see and how much information there is in it.  Our eyes need to scan the work of art to see everything.  We need to ask ourselves all of the questions.  Because a work of art has so much information in it, different people can always see new and different things.  We are misled to believe that there is a single, correct way to look at a work of art such as textbooks incline us to believe.  Art historians are always finding new competing perspectives, which offer fresh insights into our old friends.

So how does a person acquire this talent?  Through art, an art historian such as myself can teach you simply how to look and then also teach you about yourself.  Once you know yourself, you can go beyond your filters and learn how to see the unseen.  Everyone is really an artist, or we can learn how to be an artist, because artists are the ones who see the unusual.  Through tapping into the right side of your brain and be like an artist, you can be the better thinker and problem solver that you need to be.