Fixing Psychology

A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Ecological Revolution: The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems, 50 Years Later

In 1997, the journal Ecological Psychology published two issues in tribute to James Gibson's The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems, which was published in 1966. I am creating this page as a landing pad for my posts regarding the articles in those issues. I will also add links, as I find them, to other places on the internet where these issues are discussed (suggestions in the comments are strongly encouraged). I reviewed a few of the articles when they first came out, but recently found the issues again and realized how negligent I have been in covering more of them. One special treat about those issues is that they feature articles by several of my favorite contributors to the field, and the quality of the articles is very high.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

How we got to the muddle of "The Hard Problem" in psychology

Once upon a time we knew almost nothing about how vision worked, then, at just about the same time, all of the following happened:
  1. Artists figured out perspectival drawing, and people went nuts over it.
  2. It was discovered that they eye of a bull could act like a “camera obscura.” Camera obscuras were small dark rooms in the middle of a garden, built so that they cast an inverted view of the garden in one wall, by virtue of a pinhole in the opposite wall. Those were all the rage, because rich creepers could jerk off in them while spying on the ladies walking the garden. At that point, everyone assumed that vision was this passive thing that started with a still image in the back of the eye, and involved the opposite of whatever intellectual activity artists engaged in when creating a flat picture.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Chicago APA Convention 2019 - Society for the History of Psychology

FYI: Cathy Faye, President-Elect of the Society for the History of Psychology (American Psychological Association Division 26), asked a while ago if I would be program chair for the 2019 APA convention in Chicago. I foolishly agreed pretty readily! Three quick things:

1) If you or someone you know might be interested in being the co-chair, with me shouldering most of the work, please give me a heads up.

2) This weekend (June 1-3, 2018) I will be attending a training event for program chairs in Washington DC. The most obvious goal of this event is to help the program chairs figure out APA's convoluted process to create "Collaborative Programing." That has such a long timeline, it requires multiple divisions to join forces over a year ahead of the conference. I will post details here as I get them, but in the meantime, if you might have ideas for collaborative programs, or have interest in putting together a regular session for the 2019 conference, give me a heads up.

3) Cathy's presidential theme hasn't officially been announced yet, but she strongly shares my interest historic research that provide practical guidance for emerging issues in the field. So we will be looking for both straightforward history of psychology papers and historic critiques of currently emerging issues.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Representation, Bee Dances, and Daniel Hutto

Dan Hutto, who does great philosophy of psychology work, recently gave an ENSO seminar titled Beyond Content: Explications, Motivations and Implications

This is the ENactive Seminars Online (ENSO), put together by Merek McGann and Mathew Egbert. Dan gives a solid overview of the players working today on whether cognition necessarily entails representation - and what on earth that might mean. For those who don't know, after championing a Wittgensteinian view of folk-psychology theories in the beginning of his career,  Dan has spent the last decade or so as one of the heavy hitters in philosophy arguing that cognition need not entail mental representation. Though he thinks representation has a place in the conversation - post language - he does not think "basic cognition" requires it at all.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Perceiving sociocultural phenomena

This is the third in a series of posts examining the Special Issues of the journal “Ecological Psychology” commemorating the 50th anniversary of “The Senses Considered As Perceptual Systems.”

Harry Heft brings his unique insights regarding the history of psychology to bear, with a focus on the relatively-understudied implications of Gibson’s work for understanding culture. Recall that part of Gibson’s challenge to the field (see Shaw 2002) was to see how much could be covered by perceptual processes, and avoid the temptation to start hand waving at higher-level processes whenever the going got tough. One aspect of Gibson’s work, comparatively neglected by both his proponents and his critics, is his attempt to see how far he could push perceptual theory towards explaining the interaction of people in situations where cultural practice plays a strong role in determining what the world affords. As usual, Heft’s writing is clear and keen. If you haven’t read any of his work before, I suspect you will find this article deeply insightful, and that it will lead you to seek out more of his work.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

50 Years of Research into Haptic Perception

Gibson’s 1966 book The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems recently turned 50. Two issues of the journal Ecological Psychology commemorated that event (here, and here). This is the third in a series of posts reviewing those contributions. It covers Carello & Turvey's Useful Dimensions of Haptic Perception: 50 Years After The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems.

Haptic perception is extremely neglected relative to visual and auditory perception. The term could refer simply to feeling things by touch, but in the context of EcoPsych is more likely to refer to perception as the result of manipulating objects, i.e., picking things up and moving them around. The Senses Considered included chapters about the haptic system, but offered only a cursorily outline of what an improved study of the haptic system would look like. Some the first wave of Gibson-inspired researchers latched onto those chapters, and created some of the more notable research triumphs of the field. Carello and Turvey performed, or supervised people who were performing, much of that work. Given that several good summaries of the research exist, they choose to focus instead on showing how the haptic research has been a uniquely suited context for exploring the novel implications of an ecological approach to perception.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Modularity and the study of visual perception - Marr and Gibson

Gibson’s 1966 book The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems recently turned 50. Two issues of the journal Ecological Psychology commemorated that event (here, and here). This is the second in a series of posts reviewing those contributions.

Vision research was impacted tremendously by the short career of David Marr. Marr was tremendously impacted by James J. Gibson, though mostly by Gibson's earlier work on optic flow, and not by his later works that birthed Ecological Psychology. Marr was incredibly influential in the move towards thinking of vision (and neuroscience in general) as "modular", while most of Gibson's work would lead one away from modular thinking. It is this tension that motivates Sedgwick and Gillam's article "A Non-Modular Approach to Visual Space Perception."