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The Ecological Approach to Perception and Action

see also the Ecological Approach to Human Machine Systems

The ecological approach stresses the relation between the organism and its environment and the relation between perception and action. It is a general theory of the perception and control of behavior; general in the sense that it aspires to describe, explain, and predict perception and action by all animals in all situations, at all ages.

Ecological psychology has its origins in the work of James and Eleanor Gibson, who emphasized direct perception via the detection of higher-order stimulus variables, as opposed to a reductionist, constructivist-representational account of perception. The ecological approach focuses on the perception and control of behaviors that occur naturally, that is, outside the laboratory. In particular, the ecological approach focuses on aspects of the animal and the environment that determine the success or failure of behaviors. The unit of analysis is the animal-environment system. Thus, the ecological approach is a systems-based approach to the perception and control of action.

For more information:

Gibson, J. J. (1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

Gibson, J. J. (1986). The ecological approach to visual perception. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Michaels, C. F., & Carello, C. (1981). Direct perception. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Stoffregen, T. A., & Bardy, B. G. (2001). On specification and the senses. /Behavioral and Brain Sciences/, /24/, 195-261.

International Society for Ecological Psychology


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Last modified on 2/25/2013