Authors: Jerome S. Bruner, Leo Postman.

Article: On the Perception of Incongruity: A Paradigm.

Publication: Journal of Personality (Wiley). Volume 18, Issue 2 Pages: 206-223 1949 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1949.tb01241.x

[Full Text]


Our major conclusion is simply a reaffirmation of the general statement that perceptual organization is powerfully determined by expectations built upon past commerce with the environment. When such expectations are violated by the environment, the perceiver’s behavior can be described as resistance to the recognition of the unexpected or incongruous The resistance manifests itself in subtle and complex but nevertheless distinguishable perceptual responses.

Among the perceptual processes which implement this resistance are (1) the dominance of one principle of organization which prevents the appearance of incongruity and (2) a form of “partial assimilation to expectancy” which we have called compromise. When these responses fail and when correct recognition does not occur, what results may best be described as perceptual disruption. Correct recognition itself results when inappropriate expectancies are discarded after failure of confirmation.

Tagged as: disorientation, perception, and perceptual disruption


Bruner, Jerome S., and Leo Postman. On the Perception of Incongruity: A Paradigm. Journal of Personality 18 (1949): 206-223

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