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Perceptual Development


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.