Ecological Psychology 2004

The Ecological Approach to Perceiving

Psychology 493

Fall 2004


William M. Mace
Office: Life Sciences 212A
Office Hours: M 10 – 11:15; W 1:30 – 3; Th 9:55 – 11:15; and by appointment
Phone: X2343
E-Mail: william.mace

What time is it? (BROKEN LINK)

Trinity College Intellectual Honesty Policy

Required Reading

  • From Bookstore
    • Gibson, James J. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception
    • Other material as it becomes appropriate and available


    In order to pass the course, you must pass the class participation requirement and complete all assignments

    Class participation Your grade for class participation will take into account your attendance and your behavior. It is assumed that you will show normal courtesy to other classmates and arrive on time, then stay in your seat for the entire class. It’s only 50 minutes. Once in a while the class will be asked questions about what’s been covered in the current class, the previous class, or a salient reading. There also will be opportunities for students to clarify any questions that are unclear. Students who do not volunteer to answer questions in class may be called on. Occasionally, there will be short homework assignments and correspondence by email. Satisfactory participation in these also will count in the category of class participation. The point will be to help me stay in touch with what you are picking up, to increase the chances you will know the material well before exam cramming time.

    Exams will consist of questions with short answers. Questions will depend on both classes and reading. You will not do well if you concentrate only on the reading or only on the classes. Moreover, the question usually will ask you to figure out the answer based on what you learned andnot merely to repeat something you heard or read. I want you to understand how things work. Your goal should be to make the material make sense to you. If it does not, you need to ask questions — ask in class, after class, over electronic mail, or any other time you can reach me.

    Class Project I

    Term Projects

    The syllabus for this course is on the World Wide Web. The address is: (No period at the end).

    List of websites useful for this course

    To stay on schedule, you should complete the reading listed for a given class day by that day.

Schedule of Classes

Class 1
September 7
Introduction to the course
Class 2
September 9
Read the exchange between Gregory and the Gibsons.
Eleanor and James Gibson’s reply
Because the format of the original Gregory article is so cumbersome, you need directions on how to read the file. Column 1 of the article, on the first page of your file, continues on page 3 of the file.
Two versions of active theories of perception
Class 3
September 14
Read: Gibson, J. J. (1960). The concept of the stimulus in psychology. American Psychologist, 15, 694-703.
Class 4
September 16

  1. Remainder of Gibson (1960)
  2. Perspective drawing
Get familiar with this web site on linear perspective. The laws of perspective have been extremely important to the development of Gibson’s ideas. His ideas in no way are equal to perspective, but he’s tried to profit from what insights he thinks can be gleaned from perspective.
Class 5
September 21
Read: Gibson (1959)Notes for Tuesday class This chapter is a good way to get up to speed on Gibson, 1950 even though he felt he was far beyond it by the time the chapter came out.
 Class 6
September 23
 Continue reading Gibson, 1959
 Class 7
September 28
 Read: Gibson (1965). Research on the visual perception of motion and change. In I. M. Spigel (ed.)Readings in the study of visually perceived movement. NY: Harper & RowSupporting film also available on CD  It would be good to read some of the work explicitly on “motion” before we go much further.
 Class 8
September 30
Class 9
October 5
Read: Handout on geometries Transformations and Invariants: The hierarchy of geometries
Class 10
October 7
Recommended reading: Cassirer [on Blackboard] More on transformations and Invariants
Class 11
October 14
Read: Gibson (1979) Chapter 1 Animal and environment reciprocity; sky and earth
Class 12
October 19
Read: Gibson (1979) Chapter 2 Medium, substances and surfaces
Class 13
October 21
Class 14
October 26
Read:Gibson (1979) Chapter 3 Classification of what’s in the environment
Class 15
October 28
Gibson (1979) Chapter 4 Information vs. stimuli: Do we ever see light (as such)?
Class 16
November 2
Class 17
November 4
Gibson (1979) Chapter 5 The ambient optic array — Focusable lightNatural vs. Artificial perspective
Class 18
November 9
Continuing Gibson (1979) Chapter 5 The change between hidden and unhidden surfaces
Class 19
November 11
Read:Gibson (1979) Chapter 7 Perceiving the SelfAfter class: make still version of movie
Class 20
November 16
Read: Purple peril on affordancesGibson (1979) Chapter 8 Affordances
Class 21
November 18
Gibson (1979) Chapter 9 and 10
Class 22
November 23
Gibson (1979) Chapter 11 The occluding edge and its consequences
Class 23
November 30
Gibson (1979) Chapters 12 and 13
Class 24
December 2
Gibson (1979) Chapter 14
Class 25
December 7
Gibson (1979) Chapters 15 & 16
Class 26
December 9