The McGurk Effect!

What we see can change what we hear.


The McGurk Effect, which was seen on BBC Two – Horizon: is seeing Believing?  shows that what we see can change what we hear. That in order to maintain within our system a coherent world view sometimes our sense of vision can over-ride and take over. This brings up the interesting idea that what we hear may not always be the truth, that we are hearing with our eyes.  For instance if our mouth movements change, like in this example of FA FA FA and they are not connected to the sound which is BAA our brain over rides the auditory information.  Our brain, integrates visual and auditory cues and determines whether to over-ride the message it receives if there is conflicting information between the senses.

I think this is a fascinating phenomenon that even though may not work on everyone highlights how communication is influenced by what we see when we are receiving information through sound and that our senses are working together to create information that makes sense to our understanding of the world.  Give yourself time to take a look at the above clip, I found that it is a lot of  fun participating in the experiment.

After seeing this phenomenon it raised for me the idea of communication in general within relationships and the incredible job our senses do to provide information for us to interpret our environment and respond accordingly. However, because we are all so unique and experiencing different histories, we are impacted differently due to our individual interpretation of the situation. It is this individual interpretation of life events that influences our creation of reality.

We then start to see all the variations of responses that can occur due to the power of our subconscious and our belief patterns. Just like not all people are susceptible to the McGurk affect, we are all different in how we respond in relationships. .

Our visual experience will provide important information to assess more accurately the true message in communication.  Whilst this is different to the phenomenon in the McGurk affect we can appreciate that we all have so many filters that information needs to travel through that we really can see that miscommunication is easy to occur as individual realities can be very different.

It is then because of these moments of conflict that we are given rich ground from which to know ourselves and the world and to grow and change as a result. It might be interesting to just pay attention to how much information we get from our visual cues, which is shown in body language, facial expressions and how it can override the auditory if they are not congruent.  If your boss says great job but has their arms crossed with a frown, you are going to question the authenticity of what is being said.  Now notice it within your relationships and if it feels safe, share what you observe and be curious about the others experience as to the inconguency.

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