Ecological Approach

Ecological psychology, as it applies to the domains of perception and perceptual development, refers to the perspective developed during a 30-year period by J. J. Gibson and Eleanor J. Gibson, and elaborated during the past two decades by their students and colleagues. The impetus for this approach grew largely from J. J. Gibson's work early in his career on several practical problems, such as how individuals control their movement when driving a car or landing a plane. These investigations led him to conclude that traditional theories of perception, and their supporting evidence mostly gathered in laboratory conditions, did not apply well to more everyday circumstances of perceiving. This entry describes major concepts in ecological optics, perceptual learning and development, and philosophical implications of ecological realism.

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