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A2 perceptual thoeries

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1) Outline two or more studies into the development of perceptual abilities. (12 marks) Many researchers have performed studies to distinguish whether our perceptual abilities are a result of nature or nurture. One way of testing this are studies using non-human animals. Held and Hein used a kitten carousel to study kittens movement using their vision. Two kittens were kept in the carousel in darkness for 8 weeks, spending only 3hours a day with light. As the active kitten moved itself around the carousel its movements were transmitted to the passive kitten. Both kittens moved at the same pace and had exactly the same visual experience. When placed onto the deep side of the visual cliff apparatus they showed no evidence of depth perception, but soon learned the normal avoidance responses. This shows that what the kittens failed to learn was the correct motor response associated with depth perception rather than with depth perception itself. These studies can only be measured by observing animal behaviours and there physiological response, it is also hard to know whether deprived animals do not perceive particular stimuli However, there are studies which provide evidence that perceptual abilities are due to nurture. ...read more.


Genes and experience play an important role. Experience begins at birth and gradually develops with age, so the earlier in life a perceptional ability appears, the less likely it will have depended on experience. Researchers have used many studies to get a better understanding of the nature-nurture debate. Studies on babies confirm that new born babies have some perceptual abilities present at birth and are capable of sensing shapes. Gibson used infants aged 6-14months to conduct a study on depth perception, to find out if babies are capable of perceiving depth. He found that the babies could perceive depth and therefore concluded that depth perception is not always learned. Perceptual development after birth involves a complex interaction between genetic and environmental influences but in reality we do not need years of experience to adapt our perceptions. One way of doing this is by depriving individuals of experiences they would otherwise of had. Since people can not be used to conduct such studies on due to ethical issues, non-human animals are used unless an individual is deprived because of an accident, disease or other life circumstances. ...read more.


Those who have lack of vision from birth have permanent perception disabilities. The case of a blind man who was blind from birth but later had his vision restored illustrates the difference between what he sensed and how he imagined the world before he could see with what he could see after his blindness. This gives further evidence for the effect of experience on the development of perception, suggesting that perception is based on what we see rather than what we sense. In conclusion to the nature/nurture argument it is still unclear whether nature or nurture on its own is the solution to how we perceive. After looking at the different studies into perceptual abilities we can state that experience influences and affects perception. However it is almost impossible to know what is genetic and what is acquired through experience. Studying neonates gives the most direct source of evidence but they do not distinguish the effects of maturation and learning. The earlier a particular ability appears, the more likely it is to be under the influence of nature. Therefore the more simple perceptual abilities seem to be controlled by nature and the more complex abilities by nurture. ...read more.

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