Development of Perceptual Abilities

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  • Created by: Shelley
  • Created on: 21-11-12 12:20

Depth and Distance Perception:

Gibson and Walk 1960 used a 'visual cliff' involving a glass-topped table with a check pattern positioned close to the glass under half of the table (the shallow side) and far below the glass under the other half (the deep side). Infants between the ages of 6 and 12 months were placed on the shallow side and encouraged to crawl over the edge of the visual cliff onto the deep side by their mothers holding a toy. Most failed to respond suggesting that they had some elements of depth perception. This is also consistent with the evidence that binocular vision has developed by the age of 6 months Teller 1997.

Size constancy:

Bower 1966 studied size constancy in 9 infants between 75 and 85 days of age. The first stage of the experiment involved teaching the infants to look at the 30cm cube placed about 1m from them by their mothers rewarding them. Bower then compared the length of time looking at the same cube placed 3m from the infant and a 90cm cube placed 3m away. The former stimulus had the same size as the original cube but a much smaller retinal image. In contrast, the latter stimulus had a much greater real size but the same retinal size as the original cube. Some size constancy was shown- the infants were almost three times more likely to look at the former than at the latter stimulus. However, they failed to show complete size constancy as they were more likely to look at he 30cm cube when it was placed 1m away than when it was 3m away.

Cube 1 : 58 head turns

Cube 2 : 22 head turns

Cube 3 : 54 head turns

Face perception:

Fantz 1961 devised the visual preference task which has proved to be one the most effective ways of studying infant perception. Two visual stimuli are presented to the infant at the same time, with one being presented to the infants left and the other to their right. The amount of time spent looking at each stimulus is recorded. Fantz set up a display board above the baby with two pictures attached- one was a bulls-eye and the other a sketch of a human face. From behind the board (unknown from the baby) Fantz could peek through a small hole to watch where the baby looked. What he found was that a two month old baby looked twice as much at the human face as it did the bulls-eye. This suggested that human babies have some amount of pattern and form selection. Before this it was thought that babies looked out onto a chaotic world of which they could make little sense.

Cross cultural studies:

Hudson 1960 showed 2D pictures to various African cultures. Some participants found it hard to understand implied depth e.g. thought the man was pointing his spear at the elephant, these were generally semi-literate which may indicate the importance of schooling which…


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