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a) Describe 2 studies of perceptual development (12 marks).

b) Assess the way in which such studies help to explain the development of perception (12 marks).

In the following essay I intend to describe two studies of perceptual

development. I then intend to assess such studies and how they help to explain the development of perception. By perceptual development, I mean how animals and humans alike develop their seeing capabilities. This development of perception could be learnt or innate. By innate, I mean to be born with the ability.

a) Gibson and Walk conducted a study in 1960. The study was investigating Depth Perception. The study involved a 6-month-old child, 24-hour-old chicks, kids and lambs. Gibson and Walk used a ‘Visual Cliff’ to conduct the study. The ‘Visual Cliff’ was comprised of 2 floors. On one side there was a check-board pattern, on the other side there is glass floor. Below the glass floor there was another floor with check-board pattern. This was placed so that an illusion of a cliff and depth was created. At first the child was placed and was found to be reluctant to go onto the glass. The child’s reluctance could be seen as even with encouragement from the child’s mother, the child refused to go onto the glass. The study was continued on chicks, kids and lambs. All subjects studied refused to go onto the glass.

Held and Hein conducted a study in 1965. The study was investigating Depth Perception. The study involved two kittens. The kittens were kept in the dark for a period of eight weeks since their birth and for three hours per day they were kept in a ‘Kitten Carousel’. The kittens were given appropriate name. ‘Passive Kitten’ and Active Kitten’ were their names. The Active Kitten was given the ability to move freely at it’s own discretion, during the eight weeks. The Passive Kitten was unable to move freely during the eight weeks. Both Kittens were released into the light. The Passive Kitten showed no evidence of perceiving depth. The Active Kitten did far better then the Passive Kitten.

b) Studies like the above two help explain the development of perception. Studies do this by allowing us to understand if perception is learnt or an innate process.

The first study suggested that their subjects could perceive Depth Perception. However the study did not clearly identify whether perception was innate or learnt. This could not be identified as the child’s age created a ‘time period’ were perception could be learnt. To clarify this the study was conducted on animal subjects.

All of the subjects could perceive depth. However the animal subjects walk from almost birth. This ability to walk suggests a different process of perception to the human perception. Perception in the animal subjects seems to be an innate process.

The second study was confined to ‘Kittens’. The study suggested that depth perception is learnt. This was suggested by the ‘Passive Kitten’, restricted from movement was unable to perceive depth once free. The kitten was unable to use sensory motor co-ordination. This suggests a link between perception and sensory motor co-ordination. The study suggested perception is learnt in kittens. Environment factors also may affect perception. The study had ethical concerns, the ‘Passive Kitten’ was ‘crippled’. The Kittens parents may have a genetic affect on their behavior. The study does not suggest what type of kittens was investigated.

For Example;

‘Domestic or Non-Domestic’.

There are other variations of Kittens (cats) and therefore this may be claimed as a variable. Hence making the results invalid. . Different types of Kittens usually require their parents for a varied period of their early life. This may affect the results.

Both studies did not suggest what depth perception is like in

‘Humans’. The studies were confined to animals, which can not communicate through any human created language and therefore misinterpretation can occur. Hence, the validity of the results comes into concern.

Other studies of perception have occurred. However conducting studies of human perception is complicated, as it is not easy to generalise. Commonly studies are done on westernised subjects rather than subjects from third world countries. Studies suggest that cultural variation, environment and social aspects can have an affect on perception. Therefore many studies conducted up to date are invalid for not considering this issue as a variable.

The studies reveal different results. However these different results enable me to understand the development of perception. This suggests that perception is developed in many different ways and therefore can not conclusively be used to generalise.





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