Talk:James J. Gibson

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J. J. Gibson was a student of Holt who was himself a student of James and one of the founders of a brief philosophical movement called the New Realism. One of centeral tenants of that movement, and the one that gave Gibson's work its essential character, was the notion that organisms directly perceive environments. In fact, I believe, his theory is called by some, "direct perception theory"! In any case, in Gibson's view (says I) there is no contradiction between affordances and direct perception because an affordance is a property of an environment that can be directly perceived. Given all of this, I am surprized that J. J. didnt rise up from the grave and edit himself.

The ontology of the new realism is extremely radical. At the risk of violating some norm against hornblowing here, allow me to quote from a passage of an article I am working on. "[That ontology] places consciousness outside the conscious actor. It moves your consciousness, for instance, from being a property of you to being a property of your surroundings. This ontology turns on its head the functionalist notion that your consciousness is ontologically ?within? you but epistemologically available to you only through examination of your behavior. In the New Realist account, the contents of your consciousness are epistemologically linked to you but are ontologically outside of you. Thus, to a New Realist, an emotional feeling is a fact about the world, rather than a fact about the organism that ?has? the feeling."

--Nick Thompson 06:40, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

If anybody cares, 'direct' realism was not actually invented by Thomas Reid, but in fact had been kicking around for millenia, although the 'empiricists' (Locke and Hume etc.) gave its intellectual 'opponent' 'indirect realism' a huge boost. In fact one of the big debates in Medieval philosophy/psychology was between the indirect and direct realists. I think Aquinas was a direct realist, although i am willing to stand corrected by someone who knows more about what they are talking about!

This debate goes right back to the roots of Western philosophy: Plato was an indirect realist and Aristotle was (apparently) a direct realist. Or at least that's what this article claims.

Incidentally, it's true (to return to the article) that Jens Rasmussen took bits of Gibsonian jargon and added it to his own theories, but Rasmussen has always been a cognitivist through and through: his information processing approach to cognition is diametrically opposed to Gibson's ideas.

It should be noted that, whereas direct realism was very fashionable during the 70s and 80s (i.e. at the height of the cognitivist terror) direct realism is making a comeback, and many contemporary cognitive scientists would now argue that Gibson (and Aristotle) were right.

[New Post follows, i.e., not from the guys above:]

AS a psychology student about to get his Phd, I agree that Gibson makes more sense than dualistic theories (e.g., Marr, 1982). Perhaps this is why psychologists (I mean REAL psychologists) cannot break into mainstream science. Paraphrasing Gibson: the old theories lead to irresolvable questions. The best writing by Gibson, I think, is when he talked about visual perception in a fog-filled medium (i.e., a foggy morning; Gibson, 1979). Although your eyes are receiving stimuluation (e.g., you can open and close your eyes to detect light stimulation) you are not perceiving. When there is "no structure in the light you cannot perceive"...etc. Anyways, stimulus-blindness versus structure-blindness sort of speaks, I think, to the whole frame of mind that has changed in modern psychology.


As another psychology student about to get his PhD (though, perhaps, coming from a different perspective), I'd just like to add that there tends to be a lack of dialogue between more traditional cognitivists and ecological psychologists (they have their own journals, for pete's sake!), which is unfortunate, since there are often strong arguments in favor of both views. The notion of the importance of ecological validity is so very important, yet is frequently misinterpreted by modern researchers on all ends of the spectrum: running a study 'in the forest,' so to speak, does not inherently make a study any more ecologically valid than one run in a laboratory since a laboratory IS an environment in every way that a forest is (albeit a more sterile environment). It should be the rules that govern your environment that need to mimic the real world, and not necessarily the physical appearance of that environment. Xenkylm 17:17, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

I don't think the important point is that measurement takes place in a laboratory or a forest....rather, the important point is that measurement is valid and precise. For example, is there a measure that is equally valid and precise in BOTH the forest and the laboratory? That sort of measure would be good psychology. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The most interesting part of this discussion I think is in the counting (surveying, collecting, etc.) vs the count (survey, collection, etc.). The commonest error of the the establishment view is to denumerate mental states, rather than venerate the stateless states in between them. This is an old idea. It goes back at least to W. James, but probably farther. I only mean to say that a lack of dialogue is due to the inveterate "wishing" of psychologists for the static, unfettered states that they hold so dear. How can the relation of the mind to an object 'A' be the same relation to the object 'A' when 'A' is translated over many new contexts? Of course, this harkens back to the principles of W. James. Summarilly, the 'experience' of 'A' at time 1 and the experience of 'A' at time 2 are fettered all around by the MEAN and/or FUNCTION or experiencing 'A'. This fact is not in question so far as our experience is concerned, but comes under fire when we take the 'A' to be a resolute, disembodied FACT of the world.

By the way, I am the idiot that wrote the first thing about being a "psychology student about to get his PhD". I am insipid about ecological psychology, so please forgive me. My immediate remarks above, about W. James, are immenently the most accurate--real time--conveyence for my ideas about JJ Gibson and EP.

A note: Depth perception as related to relative motion is based on one of his theories also. Called as psychophysical theory developed primarily by James J. Gibson. The explanation of perception deals exclusively with the characteristics of information of stimuli. The stimuli are distinctive elements of what we perceive --e.g. Rock, 1975--. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:57, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Research Publications[edit]

While the article is certainly off to a great start, it remains short and stubby. I believe we can contribute to this article greatly by broadening our focus and expanding upon ideas already mentioned. For example, we can go into more depth regarding Gibson's studies on perception by highlighting a few of his major works and discussing his findings. I really like that there is a list of publications provided, so this will serve as an excellent starting point for our research. Hopefully we will be able to find some good literature reviews that discuss this research. Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 18:57, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

Article Focus[edit]

Totally agree, pink. Expanding on his theories/ theoretical beliefs and research should be a big priority for this page. I mentioned before that his theory on stimulus blindness vs. structure blindness may be something to look into. I also think the article should discuss his biography to some extent. The History of Psychology encyclopedia should give us quite a bit to work with.Brandon Fischer (talk) 20:23, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Fall 2014 update page outline[edit]

Hey group! So my suggestion is to have new titles and headers to develop the page more. My suggestions for the page would be to do: Background, Life (education, and early career), Major Works (Perception of the visual world, The Senses Considered, and The Ecological Approach) and Legacy/Conclusions.

--Emily Lesser — Preceding unsigned comment added by Emily.Lesser (talkcontribs) 18:37, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

Hi Emily,

I think that would be a great approach! Here are some of my ideas:

  • For the Background section (which I'm guessing you meant by the first few paragraphs that usually introduce the article), we can keep most of the first paragraph that's already in the article. We can cut out more detailed pieces such as the bits on optic flow, affordances, and ergonomics and place them in their rightful sections, or we can summarize these ideas more concisely and elaborate on them later. We should also think about incorporating a profile for him as well.
  • For the Life section, we could also include a subsection about his personal life in addition to his education and early career.
  • For the Major Works section, we can include parts from the second paragraph of the current article relating to The Ecological Approach to Perception and ecological psychology, and find some way to incorporate the rest.

Let me know what you guys think! Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 18:54, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

That's fine with me if you want to do the personal history section Brian. Emily and I can work on the Major works and legacy/conclusions section.Brandon Fischer (talk) 13:11, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

New Reference List[edit]

Hi everyone,

I found a few new references that we could potentially use for this article. Since we cannot cite Gibson's own research publications, I was able to find a few reviews of his work. Here is one such review that examines affordances, ability, and visual perception. This article can be found in PsycARTICLES.

  • Greeno, J. G. (1994). Gibson's affordances. Psychological Review 101(2), 336-342.

Here is another good review article that I found in PsycARTICLES. This article addresses Gibson's contributions to understanding animal locomotion and relative motion, and also includes sections about understanding Gibson's perspective on physics.

  • Nakayma, K. (1994). James J. Gibson: An appreciation. Psychological Review 101(2), 329-335.

Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 19:48, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Hey Group, So i don't know if we can use these articles.. But I found this one to be specific and helpful

--Emily — Preceding unsigned comment added by Emily.Lesser (talkcontribs) 03:05, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Hi Emily,

I'm not sure if we are able to use the encyclopedia as a source, but I'm sure we can use the references that are in that article. I see somebody wrote an obituary for him as well in those references, so Brian could use that.Brandon Fischer (talk) 13:17, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

You can certainly use an encyclopedia as a source. Emily - sign your posts with 4 tildes J.R. Council (talk) 02:14, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Okay, I found another reference that I can probably use for my section:

·Heft, Harry. 2001. Ecological Psychology in Context: James Gibson, Roger Barker, and the legacy of William James's radical empiricism. Mahwah, NJ. ISBN# 0-8058-2350-6.Brandon Fischer (talk) 16:08, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

To-Do List[edit]

Okay everyone, so are we ready to divide up the sections? We'll have the three major chunks be biography, major works and then legacy/slash contributions.Brandon Fischer (talk) 13:26, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Hi everyone,

Would it be alright with everyone if I did the (personal) Life section? I could start looking up information in History of Psychology in Autobiography among other sources. I could try to find an obituary as well. I'll try to include as much information as I can find including information on:

  • early life: Gibson's life as a youngster
  • education: Gibson's academic training (i.e., undergraduate and PhD)
  • personal life: Gibson's relationship with his wife, parents, and friends
  • career: Gibson's career as a psychologist, including any positions he may have held

I feel that these are subsections that are essential to a good article. However, the length of each subsection will depend on how much information is available for each one, and some subsections may need to be combined if there isn't adequate information to justify a stand-alone subsection (i.e., combine early life and personal life to create a broader subsection). What do you guys think?

Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 15:18, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Brandon and I can take on his works and published research:

  • The Perception of the Visual World (1950)
  • The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (1966)
  • The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (1979)



I think that one of the first things I should do is to divide up the new information into either the 'legacy' and 'major contributions' category. Contributions will be more suited for his more innovative ideas, and legacy will be his lasting influences.Brandon Fischer (talk) 15:40, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson's work on perception can be applied to aviation training, and should be as realistic and be as unconstrained as possible. This is due to learning being an active process, where the individual seeks information rather than passive observation. [1]Brandon Fischer (talk) 01:29, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson also argued perceptual experiments should focus on the display of stimulus information, not controlling the physical variables of stimuli. [2]Brandon Fischer (talk) 01:46, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson's theory on environment-animal interactions describes how structures and organisms influence one another. [3]Brandon Fischer (talk) 03:41, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

William James' "problem of two minds" was solved by Gibson's explanation of invariants. Invariants are characteristics of something that remain constant, even if the viewing angle varies between two individuals. [4]Brandon Fischer (talk) 03:57, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson's theory on affordances provided grounding for a realist approach to knowledge. The previous explanation was rooted in mind-world dualism, and thus could not delve into multiple people's shared experiences. [5]Brandon Fischer (talk) 02:43, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson was heavily influenced by Kurt Koffka and Gestalt psychology. He challenged the idea that the environment was made up exclusively of shapes and edges, arguing instead that the environment is made up of meaningful features that is experienced continuously. [6]Brandon Fischer (talk) 02:51, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson adopted a Darwinian approach to visual perception. This mentality helped him identify problems in the theories of visual perception that others did not. [7]Brandon Fischer (talk) 03:16, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

The work of Eleanor Gibson on the "visual cliff" with infants, and J.J. Gibson on animals viewing a growing form as a surface that will result in collision, demonstrated that motion and self-motion are critical to detecting visual information. [8]Brandon Fischer (talk) 03:29, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

I think we should further divide up 'major contributions' into three subcategories. The three subcategories would be his three major works: The Perception of the Visual World (1950), The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (1966), and The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (1979). [9] Emily.Lesser (talk) 14:48, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Much of Gibson's work on perception derives from his time spent in the U.S Army Air Force. Here, he delved into thoughts on how imperative perception is on daily functions. [10] Emily.Lesser (talk) 15:02, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson's work may be the first to show a distinct difference between types of perception. Form perception, on one hand, is a display of two static displays, whereas object perception, involves one of the one of the displays to be in motion. [11] Emily.Lesser (talk) 15:05, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson rejected the perspective that perception in and of itself is meaningless, he instead argued meaning is independent of the perceiver. He claimed the environment decides perception and meaning is in what the environment "affords" the observer. [12] Emily.Lesser (talk) 15:13, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson laid down the base for empirical perception research throughout his lifetime. He did work on adaptation and inspection of curved lines, which became a precursor for perceptual research later. [13] Emily.Lesser (talk) 15:29, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson did work on perception with his wife, Eleanor J Gibson. Together they proposed perceptual learning as a process of seeing the differences in the perceptual field around an individual. An early example of this is the classic research study done by Eleanor Gibson and R. D. Walk, the "visual cliff" experiment. In this experiment an infant that was new to crawling was found to be sensitive to depth of an edge. [14] Emily.Lesser (talk) 18:35, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

I would move the portion of the article on "Affordance" into the subcategory of his work "An Ecological Approach to Perceiving". This was the primary basis of his ecological research, and it would be right to put the portion the the wikipedia article that is already written up into this subcategory. [15] Emily.Lesser (talk) 18:41, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

The question driving Gibson's research on perception was "how do we see the world as we do?". This instigated his empirical research the environment and how the individual experiences said environment. [16] Emily.Lesser (talk) 18:48, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

There were two primary ways in which James J. Gibson reformed the way psychology views perception. The first is that the templates of our stimulation are affected by a moving organism. This was shown through his research on optic arrays. Secondly, he formulated the idea of three-dimensional space being conceptual. To Gibson, perception is a compilation of the person's environment and how the person interacts with it. [17] Emily.Lesser (talk) 19:04, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

The following would go under the "legacy" topic: The idea of "affordances" was further crystallized by Donald Norman in 1988. He created an objective definition of affordances that would not have been created without the base work done by James J. Gibson. Norman created the term affordance to be relational to a person and their environment, rather than intrinsic and subjective, like Gibson initially intended. [18] Emily.Lesser (talk) 19:11, 5 November 2014 (UTC)


Here is where I will begin making notes about what I want to add in the Life section. In the article, it already states his place of birth as McConnelsville, Ohio. I can move that into the Life section where it is more appropriate. I will also add that his father worked on the railroad and that his mother was a teacher. [19] Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 04:18, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

Does anyone remember how to cite the same source, but instead of adding a new reference to the list each time, it just keeps track of how many times that source has been cited? Our reference section is getting a bit messy, and it would be worth figuring out how to do for the finished article itself. Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 04:24, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

Hi Emily,

Would it be alright to put Gibson's days in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Life section? It could certainly be mentioned in the Legacy/Contributions section, but I think it would be better to elaborate on it in the Life section. Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 04:40, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson's father's name was Thomas and his mother's name was Gertrude. Because his father was involved in the railroad business, the family had to travel quite extensively until they settled in a small suburb of Chicago. Gibson had two younger brothers, Thomas and William. [20] Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 05:09, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

When Gibson was younger, he could remember his father taking him out on the train. Gibson recalled being astounded by how the visual world would flow in the direction of the train and expand. When he looked behind the train, the visual world would seem to contract. This sparked Gibson's interest in optic flow and the visual information generated from modes of transportation. [21] Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 00:25, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Gibson originally enrolled at Northwestern University. He transferred to Princeton University after his freshman year where me majored in philosophy. After taking a class on experimental psychology in his senior year from Herbert S. Langfeld, Gibson decided to stay at Princeton as a graduate in psychology. Langfeld served as Gibson's doctoral advisor. [22] Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 00:43, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

During World War II, Gibson entered the U.S. army in 1941 where he became the director of a unit for the U.S. Army Air Force's Aviation Psychology Program. Of interest to Gibson was the visual perception of flying and landing airplanes. [23] Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 02:05, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

James and Eleanor Gibson had two children, James Jerome Jr. in 1940 and Jean in 1943. [24] Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 03:55, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

The updates to the overview that were labeled as being made by on November 19, 2014 were made by me. I forgot to log into my username when I made the update Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 19:32, 24 November 2014 (UTC)


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  21. ^ Kazdin, Alan E., ed. in chief (2000). Encyclopedia of Psychology, Vol. 3. London: Oxford University Press. p. 493. ISBN 1-55798-652-5. 
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  23. ^ Kazdin, Alan E., ed. in chief (2000). Encyclopedia of Psychology, Vol. 3. London: Oxford University Press. p. 493. ISBN 1-55798-652-5. 
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Feedback for Assignment 9[edit]

General comments: You’ve already done some great work to improve this article. There’s still a little bit to go, but you are well on your way to final wrap-up. Ideas and information on Talk page are quite good. It’s time to start putting more of this into the main article.

See the brochure, Editing Wikipedia Articles on Psychology, 2nd page, Organizing your article/An article on a psychologist.

Comments on specific sections of the main article follow:

1. Lead-in

  • put in a specific comment about his unique contribution, ecological psychology

2. Life

  • definitely this section needs more detail. Flesh this out

3. Ecological psychology

  • good, but I don’t see the point of the block quote at the end. If you want to keep it, put it in a new section and give it some context.

4. Final section

  • add a section titled ‘Legacy’ about his general importance and impact on psychology
  • highlight him as a pioneering psychologist who broke from the mainstream and became a major influence on the field

J.R. Council (talk) 22:52, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

SafeAssign Report[edit]

Hi everyone,

From what I sent through to SafeAssign, I did not find any plagiarism other than the obvious match with the Wikipedia article itself. Assuming you guys didn't find anything else with your submissions, I'm guessing we are good to go. Nice job everybody! Pinkfloyd6491 (talk) 02:55, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

If something did come back plagiarized, I think we should meet up to discuss the source that was plagiarized, and then find a way to either cite that source or rephrase the idea so that it does not come back with the same result.Brandon Fischer (talk) 03:01, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

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