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Sensation and Perception

Sensation and Perception

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Other Titles in:
Cognitive Psychology | Perception

April 2014 | 520 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Sensation and Perception covers in detail the perceptual processes related to vision and hearing, taste and smell, touch and pain as well as the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. Individual chapters cover separate topics including the fast-developing areas of perception of emotions and attractiveness and recognition of faces, plus newer topics not seen regularly in other textbooks, for example changes in perception throughout the lifespan and pathologies of perception.

Key features:

  • Chapters begin with summaries of key topics and questions to aid learning
  • Includes key points, spotlights on research, and ‘Thinking about Research’ sections, designed to encourage students to design their own studies
  • Chapters close with ‘Test Yourself’ questions, a review of key terms and annotated further readings

A Companion Website offers additional resources for lecturers and students available on publication at 

Part I: Foundations and investigative techniques
Chapter 1: The nature of perception, and some ways of investigating it
Chapter 2: Research methods in perception
Part II: Visual and auditory perception
Chapter 3: Mechanisms of early and middle visual processing
Chapter 4: Seeing in colour
Chapter 5: Seeing pattern and motion
Chapter 6: Hearing
Part III: The chemical senses and somatosensory perception
Chapter 7: Taste and Smell
Chapter 8: Touch and pain
Chapter 9: Vestibular and proprioceptive systems
Part VI: Perceiving the world around us
Chapter 10: Visual and auditory localisation
Chapter 11: Eye movements and perception of natural scenes
Chapter 12: Recognising faces
Chapter 13: Perceiving emotions and attractiveness
Chapter 14: Attention and awareness
Part V: Changes in perception
Chapter 15: Changes in perception through the life-span
Chapter 16: Pathologies of perception


Click for online resources

For Lecturers:
  • PowerPoint slides
  • A test bank of multiple choice questions and short answer questions

For Students:

  • Multiple choice questions

'John Harris has decades of experience on how to get students interested in perception, not the hottest topic for most psychology students. In his book, he draws on this experience to get the reader motivated in understanding the problems to be solved in perception research, the methods used and the often surprising insights gained, using hearing and seeing as main examples. John also makes clear that there is still much more to uncover and that humans are still better at most perceptual tasks than computers are. A fun book to read'

Manfred Fahle
Bremen University

'The breadth of coverage is greater than most other textbooks of its type. The entertaining summaries and test questions will be enjoyed by undergraduates. The book may be broad, but its coverage is deep, so both graduate students and their supervisors will find it a useful reference for material they do not know they do not know. I shall be recommending this book to my students'

Arnold Wilkins
University of Essex

The student-friendly, yet academic, writing style, and the enthusiasm with which explanations and concepts are presented, not only allow a good understanding of perception processes but also convey a feeling of the author’s passion and commitment towards perception research. 
Sensation and Perception is an exceptional textbook for any undergraduate student, at any level, having to deal with perception research... it would be a formidable addition to any recommended reading list, not only for undergraduate students within a psychology degree but also as a useful reference or key textbook for their supervisors. I totally enjoyed reading it!

Olivia D Vatmanides
Student at Bath Spa University

Sensation and Perception is to be commended for presenting complex topics in a stimulating manner, without resorting to ‘dumbing down’ in order to keep the reader engaged. Not only would it be of obvious use to any second- or third-year undergraduate course on perception, but I can see it being used as an excellent resource for guiding potential final-year dissertation students in the intricacies of experimental design. To that end, Harris’s text is a timely and very welcome addition to any undergraduate psychology degree programme.

Peter J Etchells
Lecturer, Bath Spa University

I initially liked the book's organization and the way in which the chapters proceed from basic sensation and perceptual principles to specific topics. I still think this is a great idea. The book's low cost was also a factor. However, when actually teaching with this book, I found that my students found the writing tedious and sometimes hard to comprehend, and the illustrations in the book were so hard to work with I ended up using figures from a different textbook in lectures to aid the students' understanding. In addition - what I did not realize initially - the book assumes that the reader had introductory neural / biological topics somewhere else, which was not the case with my students, so I had to assign a supplementary reading giving them a crash course in what a neuron is and how the neural system is organized.

Dr Nikita A. Kharlamov
Communication & Psychology Department, Aalborg University
August 5, 2016

This book breaks down human sensations and perception in an easy to understand format. It gives good examples from research and backs them up with case studies. This is a great book for anyone studying in the area of intellectual/ learning disabilities both undergraduate and postgraduate.

Ms Brigid Arkins
Department of Nursing, Waterford Institute of Technology
April 21, 2016

This text explores in detail the psychology of sensation and perception, providing a wealth of information to challenge students (and teachers!) alike.

Mrs Issy Hallam
Psychology , South Devon College
January 30, 2016

This book gives a good overview of perception. It informs the reader of the physiological, neurological, psychological factors that influence our perception and senses.

Mr Peter Gilliver
Outdoor, Countryside, adventure and ecotourism, University of Derby, Buxton
May 18, 2015

a clear and interesting book

Dr Matteo Martini
School of Psychology, University of East London
March 20, 2015

With his years of experience in the field, Harris offers an interesting, non-boring, view on perception research. These findings could be very useful for the development of socially interactive agents, such as robots.

Mrs Maartje De Graaf
Media, Communication & Organisation, Twente University
February 23, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 12: Recognising Faces

John Harris

John Harris is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Reading, where he has taught about perception for over twenty years. Previously, he worked at the National Physical Laboratory, and later at the University of Bristol, in the Departments of Anatomy and  Psychology. He has published more than 70 articles and book chapters on aspects of visual perception and its abnormalities. He has been associated for many years with the international journal Perception, first as an Associate Editor and later as a member of the Editorial Board. More About Author