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Are Perceptual Abilities Innate

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By Syavashp
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1) Start off with the nature v nurture debate, about how genetics and the environment come together to form our schemas. Link it to the debate over whether perception in children is innate (nature) v nurture or a mixture of both.

2) Discuss major influences on both sides of the argument, in favour of perception being an innate characteristic v perception being nurtured through experiential learning.

3) Discuss limitations of the studies primarily the test procedures involved and the unique problems involved when dealing with young babies.

2) Define perception, check into types of perception motion/binocular parallax etc. Check up on studies related to them. Discuss.

4) Limitations include statistical inference issues.

Are perceptual abilities innate: Devpsych

One of the most fundamental and surely the most widely known debate within the psychology community is that of nature v nurture. Humans are diploid; our DNA is divided into two pairs of 23 chromosomes each which determine to a great extent our phenotype as well as our specific personality traits that make us unique. At the same time much of who we are is influenced by our environment. Being creatures of change as we are, our minds are in a state of constant flux as we navigate the world, influence it and our influenced by it in return.
The development of perception in children is a topic much debated upon primarily on whether perception is innate to humans or it is something we develop through experiential learning.
Here we define perception as our awareness of the world around us i.e. looking at the world through our own unique lens, shaped by our genetic inheritance and our personal experiences. For a more formal definition perception is defined by Wikipedia as “the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment”. (Use reference)

Main body:

In our discussion of perception in children, we’ll look at two broad categories, depth perception and perception of social stimuli.
Humans perceive depth through several mechanisms. Binocular parallax is the result of the 60-75mm difference between our eyes, which allows us to distinguish near objects from ones farther away even if they both look the same size. Similarly motion parallax i.e. the difference in relative speeds of objects such as the difference between the speed of an approaching car and an approaching airplane, allows us to perceive one object as farther or nearer than the other.
Another aspect of perception is constancy. As a car moves off and grows smaller, our perception about the size of the car does not change in line with the diminishing size of the car projected onto our retinas. (Size constancy). Similarly, as we view a person from different perspectives, we still perceive the person to be one individual rather than many. (Shape constancy).

Gibson and Walk (1960) conducted a study on depth perception among 8 month old babies. The study was conducted by instructing the mother to call the baby over the cliff side (which was actually covered by transparent glass) and then to the opposite shallower side of the cliff, to test whether babies could perceive depth. The babies were much more willing to go towards the mother when she was on the shallower side, leading to the conclusion that the babies could perceive depth and were vary of it. (insert eyepatch test). This suggests that depth perception is innate however one could argue that depth perception could have developed at any point in time through the baby’s 8 month life, although it seems unlikely. It should also be noted that several babies did crawl to the mother even when she was on the deeper side, suggesting depth perception was not fully developed in those babies.
A later study by Bower 1965 determined that 3 month old babies are capable of size constancy and can determine that the same cube is the same even if it casts different sized images on their retinas due to distance.
Later a study by Slater et. al determined that even 2 day old babies are capable of depth perception. They babies were familiarized with a cube and then shown one of different size at a different distance so that it casts the same retinal image. Despite this babies showed interest in the novel object.
Discuss study by Kelman and Spelke on figure and ground determined through similar procedures as Slater et. al that babies perceive objects in the background obstructed by foreground objects to be continuous rather than two distinct objects.

Discuss shape constancy study by Mattock et al.

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