Tennis Ball

Is tennis ball yellow or green? How’s that for a short topic of discussion between several senior corporate dudes? I suggested the color of tennis ball is both because color technically is about wavelength and frequency intervals, and despite categorically-defined notion of yellow and green red, there are infinite combinations of the two characteristics that could fall in both yellow and green color buckets. I asserted there is a spectrum that’s continuous, and we shouldn’t think about it categorically.


Albeit, I was thinking about the question in its technical context … a few minutes later, her is the response from a colleague whom I highly respect: [What Kamran’s asking about is a construct referred to in the cognitive science literature as “categorical perception.”  Categorical perception of entities that otherwise exist on a continuum (whether speech phoneme categories, musical notes, or in this case, colors) is closely related to the individual perceiver’s previous experience with similar examples (“exemplars”) of the category, which drives activation of those examples in memory, followed by resulting categorization as appropriate. Hence at a very high level, in the context of being exposed to an ambiguous stimulus to be categorized (a la the TENNIS BALL), if your cognitive system contains a stronger
representation/activation of yellow category exemplars, then you’re more likely to perceive YELLOW.  If the green category is stronger in your cognitive system, then you’re more likely to perceive GREEN].


Well, thinking about these notions in their conceptual context, I think there is also a spectrum around mental-models and our approach to resolution. At the one end stands attributes such as simplistic, certain, and disconnected. At the other end of the spectrum there is a mindset that attributes to complicated, gray, and jointed. It goes without saying that there are many combinations in between of course, but beneath, it all falls into one’s tolerance for higher degree of conviction or doubt –in the mental process.


Some of us start our mental process by convictions by default, because it’s a more certain place and it brings more sense of comfort while casting opinions. If there was any representation of one’s mindset who starts by conviction, it’d probably look like a matrix or a well-organized bookshelf. On the other hand, some of us start the process of thinking from the place of doubt by default, because we get high on the sense of open-exploration and journeying.

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