AP Psychology Practice Test: Sensation & Perception

This AP Psychology practice test covers sensation and perception. For this portion of the AP exam you will need to be familiar with thresholds and signal detection theory, attention, sensory mechanisms, and perceptual processes. Start your test prep right now with our free quiz questions.


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Question 1
Although Robert was sitting right next to his wife, he smelled a skunk minutes before she did. Apparently, Robert has a lower ________ for skunk odor than his wife.

A
Accommodation level
B
Absolute threshold
C
Adaptation level
D
Tolerance level
E
Olfactory threshold
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). An absolute threshold is the lowest level of a stimulus—light, sound, touch, etc.—detectable by an organism.
Question 2
After feeling the cold water against your skin when you first jump into the pool, after a few minutes, you no longer feed cold. This best illustrates:

A
Accommodation
B
Sensory adaptation
C
Transduction
D
Gate Control Theory
E
Just-noticeable difference
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Neural adaptation or sensory adaptation is a change over time in the responsiveness of the sensory system to a constant stimulus. It is usually experienced as a change in the stimulus
Question 3
What is the process by which we recognize, interpret, and organize our sensations?

A
Perception
B
Sorting
C
Sensation
D
Threshold
E
Transduction
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Perception is the process of recognizing, responding to, and interpreting sensory stimuli.
Question 4
What are the two types of receptors in the eye?

A
Cones and rods
B
Disks and rods
C
Cones and poles
D
Rods and poles
E
Disks and cones
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Inside of the retina are two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones. Rods are much more sensitive than cones and are adapted for vision in low light. Cones, on the other hand, are adapted for color sensitivity. While there are upwards of 120 million rods in the retina, the cones number 6 to 7 million.
Question 5
What carries information for the rods and cones back out to the ganglion cells and then to the brain?

A
Afferent neurons
B
Bipolar cells
C
Glial cells
D
Optic nerve
E
Temporal lobe
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Signals received by the photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) are transmitted to the ganglion cells by way of bipolar cells. More generally, these cells function to transmit sensory information from the site of stimulation to the ganglion cells and then to the brain.
Question 6
Jenny likes to look at the stars at night. Since it is dark, she uses which cells in the eye to get a good look?

A
Cones
B
Fovea
C
Peripheral
D
Retina
E
Rods
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Rods are responsible for vision at low light levels. A useful way to remember this difference between rods and cones is that both ‘cones’ and ‘color’ start with a ‘c.’ Cones are mostly used to process colors and rods are mostly used to facilitate vision in the absence of light.
Question 7
A condition under which a person experiences the Gestalt phenomenon called “closure” would involve

A
A circle with approximately 1/8th of its line omitted
B
A square with diagonal lines going to opposite corners
C
A triangle with a dot in the middle
D
Intersecting lines
E
Parallel lines
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Closure is the perceptual tendency to complete a shape, such as a circle or square, in which a gap in the needed stimulus line currently exists. In the case of a circle with a small portion of its line omitted, “closure” will occur and the small gap will be overlooked and the shape will be perceived as a whole circle.
Question 8
Pete is looking at a number of circles on a piece of paper. When he views the circles from one angle, the circles look like craters. When he rotates the page and looks from a different angle, the craters look like bumps. What is the source of this change in his perception of the circles?

A
Convergence
B
Light and shadow
C
Linear perspective
D
Relative position
E
Texture
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Gradients of light and shadow create the perceptual phenomenon of bumps and craters; the change following rotation is due to prior knowledge about the most likely source of light (from above).
Question 9
Of the following, which is a monocular cue for depth perception?

A
Accommodation
B
Assimilation
C
Convergence
D
Interposition
E
Retinal disparity
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Interposition refers to the interpretation of depth due to one object covering another. The object being covered appears to be farther away even though the objects could be in the same plane.
Question 10
Jerry is looking at a two-dimensional picture of a railroad track. It appears as if the track is heading off into the distance. What explains this phenomenon?

A
Closure
B
Linear perspective
C
Motion parallax
D
Phi phenomenon
E
Texture gradient
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Distance perception in a two-dimensional representation of a railroad track is primarily a function of linear perspective. Linear perspective is responsible for the perception of two parallel lines intersecting at a single point.
Question 11
In another two-dimensional picture of a railroad track, a small object is perceived by a person as a train. This is an example of which of the following?

A
Accommodation
B
Closure
C
Continuity
D
Motion parallax
E
Size constancy
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). When an object far in the distance is perceived as a large object instead of its presentation as a small object, size constancy is taking place. In this case, the small object is perceived to be a train due to the surrounding context.
Question 12
What is the phi phenomenon?

A
An important part of telekinesis.
B
It deals with experiences common to the state of alpha-wave relaxation.
C
It occurs in response to a spot of light in a darkened room.
D
It occurs in response to sequentially flashing lights.
E
It relates to electrical stimulation in the brain.
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Lights blinking in sequence and perceived as movement are an example of the phi phenomenon. Strobe lights elicit the phi phenomenon.
Question 13
A physical stimulus is converted into a neural impulse through the process known as:

A
Transposition
B
Transaction
C
Transduction
D
Transition
E
Transference
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Specialized receptor cells respond to various external stimuli such as touch, light, temperature, pressure, etc. These receptor cells transduce the physical stimulus into electrical impulses, which, in turn, trigger an impulse in other cells. Transduction is the process of converting signals or stimuli from one form to another.
Question 14
“Umami” is defined as:

A
A small membrane separating parts of the ear
B
A sex hormone
C
A species of chimpanzee distantly related to humans
D
A neurotransmitter present in the neuromuscular junction
E
One of the five basic tastes, sensed by a specialized receptor on the human tongue.
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). In the Japanese language, Umami means savory. The umami receptor on the tongue is activated by glutamate in protein-rich foods.
Question 15
Tripp has just been presented with a 1,100 Hz tone. As the frequency is slowly increased, Tripp is instructed to tell the experimenter when he notices a difference in pitch. At 1,150 Hz, Tripp reports noticing a difference. Therefore, we can confirm that 50 Hz is Tripp’s

A
Absolute threshold
B
Detection threshold
C
Accommodation threshold
D
Difference threshold
E
Maximum threshold
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The difference threshold is the smallest difference that a person can detect between two stimuli. In this case, every tone from 1,100 Hz to 1,149 Hz is perceived as the same.
Question 16
Karen can detect the position of her leg and foot as she walks. This feedback arises by way of which sense?

A
Cerebellar
B
Kinesthetic
C
Olfactory
D
Sixth
E
Vestibular
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The kinesthetic sense informs Karen (and all of us) of the position of the limbs. The prefix kin- is Greek for movement, motion, or muscular activity.
Question 17
A picture of 2 distinct arrows, <−−> and >−−<, are perceived to be of different lengths even though they are not. What is this illusion called?

A
Häagen-Dazs illusion
B
King illusion
C
Klein illusion
D
Müller-Lyer illusion
E
Zeller illusion
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The Müller-Lyer illusion is a demonstration of the influence of perspective and context on size perception.
Question 18
In the 1800s, Thomas Young and Hermann von Helmholtz proposed a theory of perception. With what is the Young-Helmholtz theory concerned?

A
Color perception
B
Depth perception
C
Encoding
D
Pitch perception
E
Size vs. shape
Question 18 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The Young-Helmholtz theory of color vision holds that each of three specialized receptors gives rise to the perception of a single color.
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