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 Cognitive Development
- The Gibsons' Affordances -

Ψ   An Affordance is each of the various opportunities for perception, action, & interaction that an object or place offers to any individual. Which takes precedent depends on a person's

    •  Past experiences
     •  Current developmental or maturational level
      •  Sensory awareness of the opportunities
       •  Immediate needs & motivation

    In terms of actions controlled by the infant, the grasping & sucking reflexes are among the first to afford information.

Affordances for babies include;
    •  movability
     •  suckability
      •  digestibility
       •  graspability

The most difficult affordance for babies to understand is digestibility.

The Affordance of Falling

 'visual cliff
    A novel piece of apparatus designed by Gibson & Walk (1960) to test for the falling affordance, called the 'visual cliff'. It consists of a raised central platform with a horizontal sheet of plate glass on either side. Under the glass, on one side only, there is a large drop to the ground below - this is the 'cliff'.

Ψ   The visual cliff was once used as “proof” of an infant's depth perception; however, later studies showed 2 to 3 month-olds perceived depth (by monitored heart rate change), but were not fearful. They had not yet afforded falling (& subsequent pain) to a cliff (height). This comes with more experience as evidenced by the observation that  6-month-olds can be urged over the cliff by mom whereas 10-month-olds cannot.

Ψ  The Gibson's contextual view emphasizes that early perceptual development involves a growing knowledge of affordances, acquired through infants' active interactions with the objects, events, and people around them.

Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates