Weird psychology question regarding visualization.

That’s what I’m getting at. I always thought of what I did as “visualization.” But it’s seeming to me that reading the OP is causing me to no longer understand what is visualization. Now I think it’s like explaining blue to blind person…

As mentioned by GargoyleWB, I love to read novels. I don’t “visualize” them in the optical sense (I’d always thought I “visualized,” just not as described in the OP) – but I can imagine the feelings in the scenes often enough. Hmmm… now that I think about it, I went through all seven Dark Towers, and have no idea how Roland looks. So maybe I’m not visualizing correctly? Or at all?

As for looking for things on my desk, well, I’d tend to think more geometrically. I don’t see an image of my desk with my stapler. I remember my desk as an object located at a point in space, with various other objects in relation to it. But now that I mention it, do I really do that, or is my self-analysis screwing me up?

Okay, here’s another – I’m a map person. I can look at my start and end points, drop the map, and go. Give me directions, and I’m just screwed. Doesn’t this mean I’m a visual person or something? So why can’t I visualize?

I had no idea that everyone couldn’t visualize. Man, the things you learn around here.

For those of you who can’t visualize, can you “see” objects in your head, but just not in motion? If I said, “tomato”, what do you think of?

It is a red thing. In my fridge. Regardless of whether it moves or not. Wow, I got dealt a bad hand. I wanna visualise stuff!

I always visualize thing in my head and was suprised when my wife couldn’t.

She had a 2-D drawing of a proposed closet organizer for a 6’ wide closet that was divided into three 2’ sections. We agreed that it would be too crowded. I said we could just drop off the last section and just expand the first two to 3’ sections.
She looked at me like I was from Mars. I even covered up the third section with my hand and told her it would look like that but wider. She still couldn’t grasp what I was saying.

One thing that I can’t do however is draw a continuous clockwise circle in the air with my right toe and draw a number 6 on a piece of paper.

I can visualize, but only dimly, in indistinct images. I can’t see faces except in brief glimpses. I think I’m tactile/verbal/auditory, and then visual.
I can make the wheel stop abruptly and go the other way, but I can’t make it slow down. Interesting.

It could be worse. You could be tone-deaf.

Actually, if you were both tone-deaf and unable to visualize stuff, then you could be on TV as an American Idol contestant. Or at least in their promos.

Wow, this is an interesting thread. I have no problem visualizing things (and I didn’t know other people did), nor do I have a problem with the task in the OP. But… I have problems with similar things. Sometimes, when a mental picture gets stuck in my head of something moving, it won’t stop or get out, no matter how hard I try. It just sits there in the back of my mind turning or whirling or whatever.

I don’t hear in my thoughts, though. (Perhaps because I’m hearing impaired?) I understand what people are saying in my memories and so forth, but I don’t “hear” it the same way I “see” things in my head. Sometimes they show up like closed captioning on TV or subtitles on DVDs. Same goes for touch, and scent. All I do is see.

I can do it easily, so much so that I can’t imagine why you can’t. Maybe it’s because I did as a child, as I sometimes do now, actually watch mundane stuff as they do their thing. :smiley:

After a bit of practice (something to do before going to bed) it seems I can do it if I concentrate hard enough AND have some sort of background noise. If it’s silent, I can’t do it at all.
Maybe I really am a freak.

This is making me think about myself. I can look at a screen, at the same time as I mentally visualize a wheel doing exactly what has been discussed. It is a little fuzzy around the edges, and perhaps due to watching cartoons, I now have the mental image of such things in my head occurring inside my head.

To those who have problems visualizing things, how do you remember events? As a series of pictures and brief video recordings, emotionally, or how?

I’m very aware that there are quite a few people who cannot visualize. I’m an engineering student and it never ceases to amaze me how many people get confused when, say the prof draws a cut-away view, on the board. I on the other hand can see it immediately, rotate it, scale it, etc.

Then I have to sit there and attempt to explain how “no, no, that bit there is a disc that rotates out of the board…that pole over there is aligned radially to the disc and doesn’t move…” etc.

However, despite my visualization skills, I cannot draw worth a damn. I can never get my hands to “trace out” what I see in my brain.

How do I remember things? In WORDS. Everything in my head is WORDS. I may have a hint of some picture brush through my mind but it’s not known; to KNOW it it has to be in WORDS. The idea of pictures of things in your mind is completely incomprehensible to me. I guess I basically don’t believe it. I think you are describing something to yourself in words so vividly that you think you see it. But my brain does not have any pictures in it.

I can picture the wheel…but only because I’ve seen this happen before; water drips off the blades as the wheel slows to a stop before going the other way. Probably in a movie. (why is the wheel intially going counter-clockwise? hmm) If I hadn’t seen it before, I’d have a lot more trouble doing it, because I think mostly in words. So much so that it took me *forever * to figure out what people mean when they said suchandsuch a children’s book caused kids to use their imaginations which seemed odd to me because the kids weren’t writing the story just reading it- I finally realized this didn’t click because don’t usually picture anything when I read, but a lot apparently do. I love to write but don’t really picture things that I’m writing about either, actually; I’ll get a few “postcard” images, but not like a movie how some people describe. Dreams and fantasies, on the other hand, are movie-like, go figure.

Interesting, as an apparent non-visualizer, I have no problems with any of these technical tasks. In fact I excel at them, and it’s what I do for a living. And most of my hobbies are technical in nature. But your prof is drawing things, making them visual – I don’t get what’s not to get in that situation?

Drawing – heh. My drawing’s always been very non-artistic and completely technical in nature as far back as I can remember. I can draw just about anything in wireframe, but ask me to make it artistic? Might at well ask me to understand poetry (that artistic poofy stuff). Now I’m not at all unartistic – I’m a rather good writer. I can force things to look nice in Photoshop.

By the way, for the record, even though I say I’m a ‘strong visual thinker’, I’m not one of the people who ordinarily can project mental images with the same size and clarity of things I actually SEE. Sometimes that happens, or nearly happens. Normally it’s just somewhere between ‘dim sketchbook with vague colors’ and ‘thinking on a white piece of paper.’ Even at the latter extreme, which is I think the same thing Balthisar means when he says “I know exactly what it looks like without seeing it,” that qualifies as visualization to me.

You’re thinking about it in terms that would correspond to the visual sense, as opposed to any other sense – that’s what counts to me. How closely those thoughts match up with real vision can vary widely.

Oh, just thought of something: here’s the acid test, you visualizers: can you count the number of paddles on the mill-wheel? You know, once you cause it to stop (for those than can :dubious: ). I can’t count 'em. I can cheat, and think about it how I would build it, and come up with a number there.

So, visualizers, are you just super engineers able to throw everything together in a quick image, or do you only “see” items that you’ve seen in the past?

No, it’s not just words … I can really, really see it. The proof is that I can manipulate the visualizations in ways that I couldn’t if it was just words.

For example, if I’m doing level design for a videogame I can look at a 2-D sketch of the level and translate it into a 3-D model in my head. Then I can imagine standing at any point in the model and make design decisions about how the architecture will affect gameplay. And then I can translate those decisions back into corrections on the 2-D sketch. The experience is kind of like using a CAD system or other 3-D visualization tool.

Or … another example: I wrote the screenplay for the cutscenes in my current game. While I was writing it I visualized the entire story shot-to-shot. I wasn’t just hearing the words the characters spoke, I also saw all the camera angles and cuts and edits. It was like watching the movie in my head before it was even storyboarded.

But I can visualize a spinning wheel. It’s a bit indistinct and not really in color and it lacks the kind of detail that other posters have talked about, but I can definitely “see” it in my mind. I am jealous now, though, of those who apparently have photo-realistic visualization ability.

And, like another poster, I’ve thought that if I ever found myself in one of those “describe a person to the police sketch artist” situations, I’d be pretty worthless. I’m not even sure if I could get the artist to end up with an accurate picture of someone I see every day. I mean, I know what my wife looks like, but when I visualize her face, it’s not like looking at a photo.

Sounds, on the other hand, I have no trouble with. When I “auditorize” a song, I hear it in my head in great detail. I can distinctly “hear” the different instruments, the subtleties of tone, the nuances of the singer’s voice, etc. And I can control what I mentally hear pretty easily. I’m not immune from getting a song stuck in my head, but it’s easy to replace it with some other song, if I want. Are there people who have trouble doing that, like there are people who have trouble making the wheel spin the other way?

It’s not all roses, though. Back when I was an engineering student in college I discovered that my comprehension of math was constrained by my ability to concretely visualize the problems. Once it turned into purely abstract symbol manipulation I wasn’t able to do it anymore. My sort of visual brain really can’t handle anything more abstract than calculus.

Wow. I guess I, too, took “visualizing” for granted.

Y’all would really hate my daughter, though. If she’s studied a text for a test, as long as she can remember what page the needed information is on, she can turn to the page and read the paragraph. In her head.

I think she’s a freak of nature. :wink: