This section is from the book "Applications of Psychology to the Problems of Personal and Business Efficiency", by Warren Hilton. Also available from Amazon: Psychology and Achievement - Applied Psychology 12 Volume Set.
WE suggest that you now test your own reproductive imagination with a view to determining your points of strength or weakness in this respect. And in doing so please bear in mind that the following questions are not asked with a view to determining what you know about the subject of the question, but simply how vividly - that is to say, with what life-like clearness - the mental image is presented to your mind, how close it comes to a present reality.
Go into a quiet room, close your eyes and try to bar from your mind every distraction. Now then, ask yourself these questions:
1. Can you remember just how your bedroom looked when you left it this morning - the appearance of each separate article of furniture and decoration, the design and color of the carpet, the color of the walls, the arrangement of toilet articles upon the dresser, and so on? Can you see the whole room just as clearly as if you were in it at this moment? Or is your mental picture blurred and doubtful?
2. How clearly can you see the space that intervenes between your house and some far-distant object? Have you a clear impression of the visual elements that determine this distance?
3. Can you see a bird flying through the air? an automobile rushing down the street?
4. Can you imagine a red surface? a green surface? Try each primary color; which is most distinct to your mind's eye?
5. Can you see a smooth surface? a rough surface? a curved surface? a flat surface? a cube? Does the cube look solid?
6. When you memorize a poem do you remember just how each word looked on the printed page?
1. Can you in imagination hear your door-bell ringing?
2. Can you form an auditory image of thunder? of waves breaking on a rocky shore? of a passing street-car?
3. Can you mentally hear the squeak of a mouse? the twitter of a bird? the breathing of a sleeping child?
4. Do these images come to you with the distinctness of reality?
5. Can you distinctly remember a voice you have not heard for a long time?
6. Can you recall the tones of an entire selection of music played on the piano?
Can you distinctly recall the odor of strong cheese? of violets? of roses? of coffee? of your favorite cigar? Is it clear to your mind that it is the odor you are recalling and not the taste?
1. Can you remember just how butter tastes? an apple?
2. Try to imagine that you are sucking a lemon. Does it pucker your mouth? Does it seem like a real lemon?
3. Can you imagine the taste of sugar? of salt? of pepper?
1. Can you in imagination live over again any past physical suffering?
2. Can you recall the feeling of woolen underwear? of bedclothes resting upon you?
3. Can you re-experience a feeling of exhaustion? of exhilaration?
Can you imagine a feeling of warmth? of cold? Does your recollection of the feeling of ice differ from your memory of a burn?
Go through the above list of questions, carefully noting down your answers. You will discover some personal peculiarities in yourself you never dreamed existed.
Try these questions on other members of your own family. You will be surprised at the varying results. You will perceive the reason for many innate differences of ability to do and to enjoy.
Think what an immense part imagination plays in the world of business, and you will see how important it is to know your own type of sense-imagery.
To some extent the power of forming mental images can be cultivated so as to improve one's fitness for different kinds of employment. Such self-culture rests upon improvement in the vividness of your sense-perceptions. It suffices for your present purpose to know that to cultivate your power of sense-imagery in any respect you must (1) Keep the appropriate sense-organs in good condition, and (2) When sense-perceptions of the kind in question come to you, give your undivided attention to your consciousness of them.