Gibson and walk Aims and contexts PY2

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Gibson and Walk. The Visual Cliff.
Aims and Context.
Gibson and walk aimed to investigate if depth perception is an innate ability or if it is learned
through experience.
Depth perception is our ability to perceive how far away an object is from us. This is an
essential ability as without it we would not be able to negotiate our way around the world. If
we never had it, we would probably not survive very long. For example we would not be able
to walk up and down stairs or walk along the street without falling into the road.
Nativists believe that depth perception is an innate characteristic and that we are born with
it. They believe that this ability may not be functioning properly when we are born but
develop as our optic nerves develop. Empiricists believe that we acquire these abilities
through our experiences and Interactionists believe that depth perception is a product of
both. That it is an innate ability interacting with environmental factors.
When we are born out nervous system is immature and the optic nerve is a lot shorter than that of an
adults. Nativists believe that depth perception would be innate. Empiricists would assume that depth
perception is acquired in response to environmental demands such as after we start to become
mobile. Interactionists would believe that depth perception is the product of the developing visual
system and experience.
Whilst most infants started to demonstrate some independent locomotion by 6 months many animals
were able to demonstrate movement from the moment they were born.
Gibson and Walk reasoned that if the ability is innate it should be apparent by the time that that the
infants were able to move independently. Gibson and walk decided to not only use human infants in
there research, because human infants alone would mean that the findings were inconclusive as to
whether the nativist, empiricist or interactionist argument was correct. By using non-human animals
such as chicks and kids, they were able to investigate if cliff avoidance behaviours (depth perception)
were evident from the time such young animals were mobile.

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