Perception: nature or nurture? Discuss. [24 Marks]
Studies of perception conducted with infants aim to distinguish if perception is due to nature or nurture. Many studies done with infants seem to point towards the idea of perception being innate, in that it is due to nature rather then nurture.
One example of research suggesting perception is due to nature was conducted by Gibson and Walk by testing depth perception of infants. They came up with the ‘visual cliff’ and during their research put an infant n one surface with a glass surface in front of them, separating them from their mother. Because the glass is see-through it would be assumed that children with depth perception would refuse to go on it, as it would appear to be at a different depth to the surface they are currently on. The research showed that infants over the age of six months refused to go on to the glass surface, indicating that they have a depth perception. As such, Gibson and Walk concluded that perception was innate.
However, this conclusion can be questioned. It can be suggested that by the age of six months that the child had been given sufficient time to already learn to identify depth cues and so have developed some sort of depth perception. In which case the depth perception would have been learnt through the environment and subsequently not be as a result of nature.
In response to such criticisms research by Campos et al used stationary infants, placing them first on the normal surface then on the glass one, each time measuring their heart rates. On the glass surface the heart rates were slowing, indicating interest. This appears to support that the depth perception was in fact innate as they could distinguish between the two sides.
Further research supporting the idea that perception is due to nature was conducted by Bower et al, who tested retinal disparity by presenting different information to each eye in children.…