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Outline the Procedure of Gibson and Walk's Visual Cliff

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Describe the Findings and Conclusions of Gibson and Walk's 'Visual Cliff' Gibson and recorded that, of the 36 participants, 27 infants moved off the centre board. Of this 27 only 3 crossed onto the 'deep' side. These results strongly suggest that almost all babies, at the age of mobility have depth perception abilities. They noticed that most of the infants crawling away from the deep side or cried when called to their mothers. Some infants even touched or patted the glass surface, so they knew that it was solid, but still refused to cross onto it. This is evidence for the idea that humans are particularly visual creatures; even if our other senses are telling us otherwise, we are likely to rely strongly on our vision. Gibson and Walk also noted that several babies moved onto the glass accidentally when trying to move away from it, which shows that accidents like falling off a cliff face will still occur even if the baby has depth perception as they are not as aware of their bodies as adults. ...read more.


Rats however, who use their whiskers to navigate, saw little or no preference for either side. This is because they are nocturnal and completely rely on their vibrissae to comprehend their environment. They also found that when the centre board was placed high enough that they could not reach it with their vibrissae, the rats avoided the deep side, showing much more preference for the shallow side. Kittens at four weeks, displayed the same reactions as the lambs, chicks and kids and Gibson and Walk also used dark-reared kittens to investigate the development of the visual system. Kittens that were reared in the dark for the first 27 days of life showed no discrimination between either side. However, when kept in normal lighting conditions, they gained normal depth perception after only one week. Turtles were also tested. Although it was hypothesised that turtles may be attracted to the shiny surface of the glass over the deep side, believing it to resemble water, the turtles also showed levels of depth perception. ...read more.


This study also supports the nativist view that we are born with the ability to perceive depth and that the visual system just has to develop for this to be fully functioning (although it does not prove that depth perception is innate). Findings usually fit with the life history and ecological place of the animal being studied (for example, dark reared cats' visual systems had not yet developed properly). All animals tested showed depth perception by the age of mobility. Habitat can affect our ability to perceive depth, for example, turtles, whose natural habitat does not require particularly accurate depth perception, show much lower levels of depth perception than other land animals. Studies with rats in which the experimenter changed the size and shape of the pattern to eliminate certain cues suggested that shape and motion cues need to develop over time whereas motion parallax is innate (supported by Yonas et al's study into babies' depth perception in photographs). ...read more.

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    Describe the Findings and Conclusions of Gibson and Walks Visual Cliff

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    However, human infants cannot be tested on the Visual Cliff until at least 6 months (when most babies acquire mobility) and it is argued that in this time the infants have a chance to develop depth perception. Gibson and Walk found a way to overcome this problem however; they tested

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    Lashley and Russel experimented on rats, some of which were raised in the dark, some in the light, inducing them to jump from one platform to another. The platforms were places at varying distances from the "jumping stand" the rats jumped from.

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