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Monday, October 26, 2009

Performance Affects Perception

I recently saw this article over on Wired and it is just fascinating to me.
In a study of 23 non-football athletes who each kicked 10 field goals, researchers found that players’ performance directly affected their perception of the size of the goal: After a series of missed kicks, athletes perceived the post to be taller and more narrow than before, while successful kicks made the post appear larger-than-life.

The article goes on to explain that after each kick the participants were asked to use a model to represent their view of the goal post.

Interestingly, the change in players’ perception didn’t just depend on how many goals they missed — it also mattered how they missed their goals. Folks who failed because they didn’t kick high enough perceived the crossbar to be taller, while those who kicked to the side viewed it as more narrow.

Things really do look different to us based on how we interact with them.

So what does this have to do with preaching? As we represent visuals we need to be aware that past experience affects the way people will perceive visual input. If you are wanting your church to reach out to the homeless, it will be difficult for them to overcome their past experience (mental disorders, rude, frightening) until they have a new experience. Take video of a homeless person in your town and interview them about their life. Share that with the church to begin to change their perceptions and start to change their actions.

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