Developmental Psychology provides student readers with essential help in all aspects of their first course in developmental psychology, including advice on revising exams, preparing and writing course assessment materials, and enhancing and progressing their knowledge and skills in line with course requirements on a developmental psychology course.

Perceptual Development

Perceptual development

Core Areas

  • Behavioural methods
  • Differentiation theory
  • Enrichment theory
  • Eye movements
  • Habituation
  • Interactionist view
  • Perceptual adaptation
  • Perceptual adjustment
  • Perceptual deprivation
  • Physiology
  • Preference methods
  • Shape constancy
  • Size constancy
  • Stimulus seeking
  • Visual cliff
  • Visual preference tasks
  • Visual reinforcement

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this Section you Should be Able to:

  • define key terms;
  • acknowledge the work of key thinkers in this area and evaluate their studies/theories;
  • provide an overview of the developmental sequences children show in terms of perception;
  • understand the relevance of the nature–nurture debate in relation to perceptual development.

Running Themes

  • Cognitive-developmental approach
  • Ecological validity
  • Ethics
  • Nature
  • Nurture
  • Transformational change
  • Variational change


D.R. Shaffer (1993: 222) provides a comprehensive definition of what we can consider perceptual development the study of. He says:

perhaps we can agree that perceptual development is the growth of interpretive skills – a complex process that depends, in part, on the expression of individual genotypes, the maturation of the sensory ...

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