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As you drive your car, the focus of your perceptions shifts rapidly between the other cars on the road, the song playing on the radio, and the conversation you are having on your cell phone. In each case, your perceptions are “about” something. Perceptual scientists and philosophers have long referred to this “aboutness” quality of perception as its intentionality.

Early in psychology's history (i.e., the late 1800s), perception and intentionality were conceptualized in terms of their relationship to consciousness. Thus, perceptions were treated as conscious experiences that were inherently intentional because they were directed toward (i.e., “about”) some object. In the early 20th century, psychology moved away from studying consciousness and began to focus on observable behavior. As a result, perception and intentionality underwent somewhat ...

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