Perception is a classic research area in Psychology, as well as one of the topics investigated here at the Department of General Psychology of the University of Padova. Studies on perception started with the first professor of Psychology of the University: Vittorio Benussi. Benussi (the only Italian psychologists included in the well-known “A history of experimental psychology” by E. G. Boring) approached the study of perception in Graz (Austria), thanks to his mentor Alexius Meinong, former student of Franz Brentano.

When Benussi moved to the University of Padova in 1919, he opened his own laboratory and started working on vision perception and time perception. Benussi had brilliant students like Cesare Musatti and Silvia De Marchi (the first woman to graduate in experimental psychology in Italy, who conducted some pioneering work on perception of numerosity). When Benussi died (1927), Musatti became the director of the laboratory. He disseminated in Italy the work of Gestalt psychologists and was tutor and mentor of the two famous researchers in perception: Fabio Metelli and Gaetano Kanizsa. At the end of the second world war, Musatti moved to the University of Milan and Metelli became the director of the laboratory. Metelli started working on his famous studies and models of phenomenal transparency, whereas Kanizsa moved to Trieste where he worked on amodal completion and subjective contours.


Vittorio Benussi (left) and Gaetano Kanizsa (right)

More information