Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Visual Cliff

Eleanor J. Gibson (1960) was one of the first to study the science of perceptual development; she is best known for her study of the visual cliff. She wanted to figure out whether experience plays a role in depth perception.
Her Experiment : the near side of the visual cliff was a board painted like a checkerboard and a flat panel of thick glass was place on top of it. On the far side of the cliff, a checkerboard floor was placed one foot lower, though the heavy glass continued the entire length, giving it a visual sense of depth, like a cliff. Gibson and her colleague Richard Walk tested whether human infants would crawl out onto or cross the visual cliff. 26 Babies ranging from ages 6 to 14 months were used in the study. They were all crawling at the time. The babies were placed in the center of the board and their mothers called to them from either the "shallow" or "deep" side. Most of the babies moved from the center at their mother's call, but only three moved in the direction of the deep side. Many of the infants peered down on the deep side, even patting the glass, but they refused to cross. Gibson and Walk concluded that depth perception emerges about the time that babies learn to crawl.


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