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February 1957

Brunswik's Theory of Perception: A Note on Its Applicability to Normal and Neurotic Personality Functioning

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;77(2):187-192. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330320085011

About 20 years ago Brunswik1 published a theory of perception which embodies the concept of probabilistic functionalism. The purpose of the present article is to describe this theory and its application to personality development and functioning, with particular reference to interpersonal transactions.

The term percept is defined in "Webster's New International Dictionary" as "the meaningful impression of any object obtained by use of the senses" (italics mine). And it is in this broad sense that the term perception is used in this article, i.e., to include the notion of meaningful awareness of objects. It is of interest here that Allport2 lists "meaning" as one of the six essential characteristics of the perceptual process and Osgood3 states that "one would be hard put to draw a defensible distinction between perception and meaning." The latter author accordingly offers the following broad, abstract definition of the term perception as referring

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