Scientists have measured the ability to perceive called O

(ORDO NEWS) — Like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike. You are probably used to the fact that people differ significantly in character and cognitive abilities – skills such as solving problems or remembering information.

In contrast, there is a widespread intuition that people differ much less in their ability to recognize, match, or classify objects. Many everyday tasks, hobbies, and even mission-critical jobs such as interpreting satellite images, matching fingerprints, or diagnosing medical conditions rely on these perceptual skills.

It is expected that intelligent and motivated people who have received appropriate training will eventually be able to excel in professions that require hundreds of perceptual decisions to be made daily.

We are psychologists who measure how people cope with complex perceptual tasks. Our research has shown that the intuition that all people have the same ability for perceptual skills is not supported by the facts.

It doesn’t matter if you decide to spend every weekend birdwatching and don’t succeed – you can still get some fresh air and enjoy yourself. But when perceptual decisions affect safety, health, or legal outcomes, it is necessary to look for people who can achieve the best results.

Our research shows that some people are better than others at learning to distinguish objects based on perception, whatever those objects are.

General ability to recognize things

Classical psychological research conducted at the turn of the 20th century found that the results of a number of cognitive tasks aimed at testing memory, mathematical and verbal skills correlated with each other. In real life, this means that someone who is great at sudoku is also likely to be good at remembering a shopping list.

This discovery led to the modern concept of general intelligence, which describes a set of abilities that collectively predict a wide range of outcomes, from income to health and longevity.

Similarly, our research shows that those who are best at recognizing birds may also excel at identifying aircraft, as well as being the best at detecting tumors on chest x-rays. In other studies, this same ability predicted better performance in reading music or recognizing images of cooked meals.

Of course, people have different attitudes towards birds or medical images. The more familiar you are with them, the better you will recognize them. Experience and learning play an important role in how people make decisions based on visual information. But does everyone start at the same level when they start learning?

Does everyone start from scratch?

We were interested in whether everyone starts at about the same level of perceptual talent. To explore this issue, we measured people’s ability to perceive artificial objects that they had never seen in order to avoid any advantage associated with different levels of experience.

In one large study, we examined 246 people for 13 hours, testing them on multiple tasks with six categories of computer-generated artificial objects. We asked people to remember and recognize objects, to compare them, or to draw conclusions about some of their parts.

Scientists have measured the ability to perceive called O 2
Examples of problems using o, from left to right: 1) Are the two objects the same despite the change in point of view? 2) In which lung is the tumor present? 3) Which of these dishes is strange? 4) Which option is the middle of the four robots on the right? Answers: 1) no 2) left 3) third 4) fourth

Our results from these tasks repeatedly show that people differ in perceptual abilities to the same extent as in cognitive skills.

Using statistical methods historically applied to intelligence and personality tests, we found that more than 89 percent of the differences between people in their performance on these different tasks and categories can be explained by general ability.

We named this ability “o” – object recognition – after the “g” factor, which stands for similar statistical evidence of general intelligence.

In subsequent research, we found that “o” applies equally to artificial and real objects, and that people with high levels of “o” are better at calculating summary statistics for groups of objects (e.g. estimating the “average” of several objects) and also better at recognizing objects. to the touch. You can compare yourself to others in this short demo.

“O” is a separate ability.

Since o is such a general ability, could it just be another name for general intelligence? We don’t think so.

In one study, we found that neither IQ nor SAT scores were predictive of novel object recognition. In another work, we found that o differs not only from g, but also from such a personality trait as conscientiousness.

This means that book knowledge may not be enough to excel in areas that rely heavily on perceptual abilities.

We tested this idea by measuring how well people with and without a background in radiology detect lung nodules on chest x-rays. The people with the highest o score performed better on this task, even after controlling for intelligence and experience in radiology.

This finding demonstrates the added value of measuring o. Even if medical students are selected on the basis of their mental abilities and given appropriate training, this cannot guarantee a high level of performance in specializations that depend on perceptual skills.

Many doors open when you demonstrate your cognitive prowess, which seems fair. But this is true only to the extent that general intelligence is the best or even sufficient way to predict success in a given area.

Many have warned that intelligence testing can lead to employment or career disparities related to race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

Over the years, many thinkers have downplayed the importance of natural talents, focusing on the influence of the environment. They argued that success could be shaped by years of focused practice, attitude change programs, or even hours of video games.

However, the evidence for the influence of innate talents remains strong, and denying it or over-emphasizing the effectiveness of environmental factors can sometimes be harmful. People may waste time and resources that could be better spent and risk stigmatization if their efforts fail due to factors beyond their control.

One answer to this problem is to learn more about talents beyond intelligence and then make better use of them. Classical notions of intelligence may be just one of many factors that determine overall ability.

Increased attention to perceptual abilities, especially those that are shared, can help reduce inequalities. For example, while differences in experience may account for gender differences in recognizing objects in some familiar categories, we found no such differences in overall ability to.

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