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Prisca So

on 27 September 2013

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Among infants!
What is visual cliff depth perception?

Scientists Involved
BY: Zunaira and Prisca
Although the infant is too young to understand, he/she knows that going off a cliff would lead to be a bad consequence
Throughout the experiment, the infant relies on the mother's expression. The mother's smile encourages the infant, to crawl towards her. This is known as the socio-emotional process of development.
The visual cliff experiment is designed by connecting a transparent glass surface to an opaque pattern surface. The floor has the same pattern as the surface in which it create an optical illusion of a 'drop off'.

The visual cliff experiment had been designed to protect the subject from injury and at the same time study the minds of infants and animals.

This experiement is controlled due these factors: reflections were eleminated from the glass by lighting the patterned surfaces from below the glass

The visual cliff experiment investigates the perception of depth within humans and animals. Animals suchs as rats, cats, turtle etc. (within 24 hours of birth or until they could stand)

Created by psychologists Elanor Gibson and R.D walk
Elanor Jack Gibson is a very influential character in the field of psychology.
She received a bachelor's degree and master degree from smith College at Cornell University.
As she was conducting her experiment, she discovered that some of her subjects had been used by someone else. Frustrated, she begin collaborating with Gibson Walk who had access to the laboratory.
Both Gibson and Walk conducted many experiments and one of their famous work was the 'visual cliff'
Before conducting the conduction the expeirment Gibson and Walk hypothesized that depth perception is inherent as opposed to a learned process.
Before conducting the experiment, Gibson and Walk hypothesized that depth perception were developed at a young age.
If the infant was hesitant to crawl to their mother, it shows that he/she was able to perceive depth.
In this experiment, there were 36 infants. Each infant is placed on the shallow side of the apparatus with their mother standing on the deep side.
If the infant was hesitant to crawl towards their mothers, it showed that he/she was able to perceive depth.
When the infants were called from the shallow side , 27 out of 36 crawled to their mothers without any problem.
However when the infants were called from the deep side, most infants refused to crawl to their mothers. Only 3 crept with great hesitation. Some infants knew there was glass as their patted it. But they still did not cross.
The experiment was also performed on animals. Most didn't cross over to the deep side except for the turtle.
Since the turtle's natural environment is the sea, researchers expected them to crawl to the deep side.

However, the turtles were 'smart' enough to know that the deep side is not water.

76% crawled to the shallow side and 24% crawled to the deep side.

The relatively large minority proves that turtle have a poorer perception
From this study Gibson had concluded that depth perception is developed at a very early age

Animals and infants had intact depth perception by the time they could begin to move.
One of the criticism was whether depth perception were innate or develop through experience.
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