Your mind doesn't always see what your eyes see. Despite deeply held intuitions, conscious perception does not depend solely on where we direct our eyes. Indeed, the amount of information available to our eyes at any given moment vastly exceeds the capacity of our awareness, with the result being that we become aware only of selected fragments of the environment. Such selection – and thus conscious perception itself – is robustly influenced by our expectations, our motivations, and even our emotions.
Given that people navigate the world with different priorities in mind and with different "affective styles", understanding such mechanisms can provide insight into why different people can witness the same event while perceiving it differently. In this talk, I will describe work in my lab that investigates how motivation and emotion help shape perception.