Evaluate James Gibson’s central claim on visual perception and state at least two different applications of these ideas in a real-world task. Excluding reference, the work should not exceed four pages.

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Evaluate James Gibson’s central claim on visual perception and state at least two different applications of these ideas in a real-world task. Excluding reference, the work should not exceed four pages.


Visual perception is the processing of visual stimuli which include images, pictures, among other visual components of the external environment, this happens when visual stimuli reach the optic or the eye. The visual stimulus creates a pattern of change in the focus of the receptor of the eye, and the actual feature or pattern of the stimulus is analyzed and understood with the help of the visual cortex of the brain. Visual sensory information is transferred from the eyes through the sensory neurons to the brain for processing. The brain, after processing the visual stimulus is then able to associate and make meaning or pair with known knowledge for easy recall.

When the brain is able to take-in visual stimulus, process them into meaningful form, and react with these stimuli, visual perception is said to occur. Visual Perception consists of the ability to understand stimuli, differentiate between visual stimuli, and remember them when seen in the future. A major example is when a student in grade 4 sees the shape of a triangle and how the image of a triangle looks like in class, at this time; the brain of the student receives this stimulus from the eye and makes meaning to the images. The next morning when the teacher asks the student to draw a triangle on the board, the student is able to draw the triangle with ease.

James Gibson’s Central Claims

Gibson propounded an approach named Ecological approach in cognition for studying visual perception; he exclaimed that human beings directly perceive various environmental stimuli with no intervening factor in the cognitive process and mental components. The brain according to him, actively builds a perception of visual inputs as humans continue to relate physically with the environment. The knowledge about the nervous system directly making meaning from the environmental stimuli with no need for several processing elements is due to the idea that innate mechanisms within humans through evolution aids in the automatic perception of various stimuli (McLeod, 2018).

The Ecological theory on visual perception was mainly based on the environmental influence alone. Gibson research on the interaction of humans with the environment empirically reformed to the influence of moving environmental components on the brain using the optic array research, and secondly, how the brain identifies three-dimensional space and the ability to form an abstract understanding in the mind (Golonka & Wilson, 2012). The main idea of Gibson’s central claim on visual perception was that visual perception was about the compilation of the various environmental factors and the relationship or interactions between the person and the environment, leading to a change in the mind of the person.

Gibson argued that when human sees an object, the ideal factor is observing and taking in the uses, qualities, and even the detailed information of the object but not merely the qualities alone. The ability to understand the affordances of the object makes it easier to process by the brain than only attending to the object’s qualities. Gibson was able to identify the types of perception into details, ranging from a form perception that talks about perceiving objects display according to the pattern cast on the eyes in a static posture, where perception object can be a motion perception. He made a propelling knowledge on how perception can be independent to the perceiver, giving the idea that perception alone is meaningful, giving a set of meaning to the individual perceiving (Heft, 1997).

Gibson rejected the theory of behaviorism and using his own research done on the optic senses of animals, he realized that animals were able to sample information from the real world. This means that one is able to determine the kind of visual information flow or optic flow into the visual sensory system of the individual for processing, including the pattern of visual light to the retina. Gibson used the term ‘affordance’ to explain the result of the relationship between an observer and the environment; this is processed and can be used for other purposes in the future. Ecology is linked to perception by the constant relation between the environment and animals or humans, both cannot exist without the other. The environment is directly perceived by the visual sense organ excluding the smaller components that cannot be seen directly in the environment, like various atoms (PMC. 1984).

The process of perception in Gibson’s model proceeds from the gathering of data from the external environment processed in the brain, the visual input is made abstract in the brain, the abstract idea or input is then processed into meaningful information to be categorized or arranged in the brain. The brain will be able to use this meaningful information to guide the activity of the individual. Gibson uses the perceptual system for a range number of components of the body that aids in perception; this means the eye is not the only sense organ for processing visual information from the environment. Gibson’s proposal is that the sensation is not separate from perception and both occur at the same time when an image or object is sensed from the environment (Natsoulas, 1990).

Applications in real-world

Gibson’s visual perception in the real-life application is varied in several conditions, this includes when an individual sees fire outbreak, they do not have to understand or think before reacting to the fire, run from the fire immediately since is dangerous and can hurt the person. Another is when a person moves outside into a very cold environment, the person directly perceives the condition of the weather and wear an appropriate dress to avoid getting cold in the cold weather. The perception of wearing a coat or a warming dress comes directly without any effort of the perceiver.

Another example is when a person is given delicious food, he will eat the food. This is perceived directly and this makes the person consume the food. He does not need to see eating in the food but perceives to eat the food because food is made to be eaten.

When a teenage boy sees a frightening Lion on the way home, according to Gibson, the boy will immediately run from the Lion without consulting any past memory or experience. This happens automatically when the boy sees the Lion without thinking or planning. The boy relates directly with the environmental stimulus by running since he perceives directly the danger associated with a Lion.

In a hospital, the doctor does meet with different patients with different situations on regular basis; the theory of Gibson will be demonstrated by the doctor during the meeting of patients. When the doctor meets with a patient, the information he receives is directly perceived and the doctor gives the patient treatment depending on the condition of each patient without the use of any other information of a previous patient. This helps in the proper treatment of patients according to their information received by the doctor.

Last but not least, when a robot is developed using the direct perception model, the robot will be able to perform accurately even when conditions in the environment change, a robot that arranges items in a room will perceive any changes in the room and make an arrangement that will keep the room organized. It does not see arrange when things are misplaced, but it directly arranges the room immediately anything in the room is misplaced.


Golonka, S., & Wilson, D. A. (2012, December). Gibson’s ecological approach-A model for the benefits of a theory driven psychology. Retrieved from Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234845497_Gibson’s_ecological_approach-A_model_for_the_benefits_of_a_theory_driven_psychology/references

Heft, H. (1997). The Relevance of Gibson’s Ecological Approach to Perception for Environment-Behavior Studies. Springer Link, 71-75. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4757-4425-5_3

McLeod, S. A. (2018). Visual Perception Theory. Retrieved from Visual perception theory: https://www.simplypsychology.org/perception-theories.html

Natsoulas, T. (1990). Perspectival appearing and Gibson’s theory of visual perception. Psychological Research, 291–298. Retrieved from https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1991-17413-001

PMC. (1984). Are theories of perception necessary? A review of Gibson’s Teh Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 109-115. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1347960/


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