Open-minded people literally see the world differently. That’s according to researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Scientists there gave volunteers a personality test. Then the participants had their “binocular rivalry” checked, to see if their visual perception was different, depending on their personality.
What researchers found was that, in people with high levels of openness, their vision was different from their more closed-minded peers. 3123 volunteers were given what is known as the big five personality test. This measures characteristics such as extroversion, conscientiousness, amiability, neuroticism, and openness. That last one is defined as the ability to incorporate new ideas, imaginativeness, and the willingness to take part in new experiences.
Openness has been shown to predict a subject’s performance on certain tasks, the attainment of creative achievements, and one’s ability to offer novel approaches to tough problems.Next, each participant had a green patch projected into one eye and a red one into the other. This was to evaluate their binary rivalry. The brain can only process one visual stimulus at a time. So in this case, participant’s usually find that their perception flips back and forth maddeningly, from red to green and back again. However, in this study, they discovered something strange. Those subjects who had a high level of openness were able to perceive a unified image, a green-red continuum.
Researchers called this phenomenon “rivalry suppression.” It was almost like, the body itself came up with a creative solution to the problem of conflicting stimuli.Three identical experiments were run, each with the same result. Those who were more open-minded were more likely to see the red-green continuum and to witness it for longer periods. Also, when open-minded people were in a better mood, the kind known to boost creativity, they also saw the continuum for longer.
This is the first empirical evidence suggesting that open-minded people experience visual perception differently than others, according to Anna Antinori, the lead author in this study.
– Philip Perry
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