Advertisement

The Ecological Approach to Navigation: A Gibsonian Perspective

  • Harry Heft
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL, volume 32)

Abstract

From an ecological perspective, a basic form of navigating is wayfinding which involves the control of travel through perceiving temporally-structured visual information. This information consists of an optical flow of perspective structure generated by a perceiver moving along a path of travel. The generation of visual information through action, which in turn is controlled by that information, is indicative of the on-going, reciprocal interaction between the perceiver and the environment. It is suggested that the perspective structure consists of a sequence of transitions between successive vistas which uniquely specifies a route to a destination. Also, like the information specifying other types of events, this information can be described as a nested hierarchical structure that unfolds over time. A series of experiments are reviewed that employ dynamic displays of paths in order to examine this approach to way- finding. In addition, it is proposed that in the process of traveling paths through the environment, invariant information specifying the overall layout of the environment is revealed to a perceiver. In this way, the panorama of the environment is apprehended. The role of the affordances of places in navigational processes is also briefly considered. Overall, this ecological analysis suggests a need to reexamine our standard assumptions about the nature of perceiving and its role in navigation.

Keywords

Optical Flow Ecological Approach Event Perception Invariant Structure Place Attachment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allen, G.L. (1987). Cognitive influences on the acquisition of route knowledge in children and adults. In Cognitive Processes and Spatial Orientation in Animal and Man. Vol. II. (P. Ellen and C. Thinus-Blanc, eds.) pp. 274–283. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, G.L., and Kirasic, K.C. (1985). Effects of the cognitive organization of route knowledge on judgments of macrospatial distance. Memory and Cognition, 13, 218–227.Google Scholar
  3. Appleyard, D., Lynch, K. and Meyer, J.R. (1964). The View From the Road. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Barker, R.G. (1963). On the nature of the environment. Journal of Social Issues 19, 17–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barker, R.G. (1968). Ecological Psychology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Beer, J.M.A. (1993). Perceived scene layout through an aperture during visually simulated self-motion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 19, 1066–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergson, H. (1910). Time and Free Will. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  8. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979) The Ecology of Human Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chatwin, B. (1987). The Songlines. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  10. Chawla, L. (1992). Childhood place attachments. In Place Attachment, Human Behavior and Environment Vol. 12. (I. Altman and S.M. Low, eds.) pp. 63–86. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, R., Cohen, S., and Cohen, B. (1988). The role of functional activity for children’s spatial representations of large-scale environments with barriers. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 34,115–129.Google Scholar
  12. Cohen, S., and Cohen, R. (1982). Distance estimates as a function of type of activity in the environment. Child Development, 53, 834–837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cooper-Marcus, C. (1992). Environmental memories. In Place Attachment, Human Behavior and Environment Vol. 12. (I. Altman and S.M. Low, eds.) pp. 87–112. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  14. Cullen, G. (1971). The Concise Townscape. New York: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
  15. Dewey, J. (1896). The reflex arc concept in psychology. Psychological Review 3, 357–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gallistel, C.R. (1990). The Organization of Learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Gärling, T., Böök, A., and Lindberg, E. (1984). Cognitive mapping of large-scale environments: The interrelationship of action plans, acquisition, and orientation. Environment and Behavior 16, 3–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gibson, E.J. (1969). Principles of Perceptual Learning and Development. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  19. Gibson, E.J. (1982). The concept of affordances in development: The renascence of functionalism. In Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology (Vol. 15): The Concept of Development (W.A. Collins, ed.), pp. 55–81. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  20. Gibson, J.J. (1966). The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  21. Gibson, J.J. (1971). The information available in pictures. Leonardo 4, 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gibson, J.J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  23. Glotzbach, P.A. (1992). Determining the primary problem of visual perception: A Gibsonian response to the “correlation” problem. Philosophical Psychology 5, 69–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Glotzbach, P.A., and Heft, H. (1982). Ecological and phenomenological approaches to perception. Nous 16, 108–121.Google Scholar
  25. Golledge, R.G. (1987). Environmental cognition. In Handbook of Environmental Psychology (D. Stokols and I. Altman, eds.) pp. 131–174. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  26. Hart, R. (1981). Children’s spatial representation of the landscape: Lessons and questions from a field study. In Spatial Representation and Behavior Across the Life Span (L.S. Liben, A.H. Patterson, and N. Newcombe, eds.), pp. 195–233. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hazen, N.L., Lockman, J.J., and Pick, H.L., Jr. (1978). The development of children’s representations of large-scale environments. Child Development 49, 623–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Heft, H. (1979). The role of environmental features in route-learning: Two exploratory studies of wayfinding. Environmental Psychology and Nonverbal Behavior 3,172–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Heft, H. (1980). What Heil is missing in Gibson: A reply. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 10, 187–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Heft, H. (1981). An examination of constructivist and Gibsonian approaches to environmental psychology. Population and Environment: Behavioral and Social Issues 4, 227–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Heft, H. (1983). wayfinding as the perception of information over time. Population and Environment: Behavioral and Social Issues 6, 133–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Heft, H. (1985) wayfinding and the flow of information along a path of locomotion. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  33. Heft, H. (1988). Affordances of children’s environments. A functional approach to environmental description. Children’s Environments Quarterly 5, 29–37.Google Scholar
  34. Heft, H. (1989). Affordances and the body: An intentional analysis of Gibson’s ecological approach to visual perception. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 19, 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Heft, H. (in press a). Toward a functional ecology of behavior and development: The legacy of Joachim F. Wohlwill. In Children, Cities, and Psychological Theories: Developing Relationships. (D. Görlitz, H. Harloff, J. Valsiner and G. May, eds.). Berlin: Walter de GruGrurter.Google Scholar
  36. Heft, H. (in press b). Gibson’s ecological approach and environment-behavior research and design. In Advances in environment, behavior, and design Vol. 4. (G.T. Moore and R.W. Marans, eds.), New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  37. Heft, H., and Blue, B. (1990). Affordances and children’s way-finding. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  38. Heft, H. and Kent, M. (1993). wayfinding as event perception: The structure of route information. Paper presented at International Conference on Event Perception and Action, Vancouver, BC, August, 1993.Google Scholar
  39. Heft, H. and Wohlwill, J.F. (1987). Environmental cognition in children. In Handbook of Environmental Psychology (D. Stokols and I. Altman, eds.), pp. 175–204. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  40. Hochberg, J. (1986). Representation of motion and space in video and cinematic displays. In Handbook of Perception and Human Performance Vol. I. In K. Boff, J. Thomas, and L. Kaufman (eds.) pp. 22-1–22-64. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  41. James, W. (1890). The Principles of Psychology. New York: Holt.Google Scholar
  42. James, W. (1895). The knowing of things together. Psychological Review 2, 105–124. [Reprinted in The writings of William James (J.J. McDermott, ed.), pp. 152–168. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Johansson, G., von Hofsten, C. and Jansson, G. (1980). Event perception. Annual Review of Psychology, 31, pp. 27–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jones, M.R. and Boltz, M. (1989). Dynamic attending and responses to time. Psychological Review 96, 459–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kaplan, S., and Kaplan, R. (1982). Cognition and Environment: Functioning in an Uncertain World. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  46. Lombardo, T. (1987). The Reciprocity of Perceiver and Environment: The Evolution of James J. Gibson’s Ecological Psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  47. Lukashok, A., and Lynch, K. (1956). Some childhood memories of the city. Journal of the American Institute of Planners 22, 142–152.Google Scholar
  48. Lynch, K. (1960). The Image of the City. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  49. Lynch, K. (1984). The immature arts of city design. Places 3, 10–21. [Reprinted in City Sense and City Design: Writings and Projects of Kevin Lynch (T. Banerjee and M. Southworth, eds.), pp. 498–510, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990.]Google Scholar
  50. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1963). The Phenomenology of Perception. (C. Smith, Trans.) London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  51. Michaels, C.F., and Carello, C. (1981). Direct Perception. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  52. Moore, R.C. (1986). Childhood’s Domain: Play and Place in Child Development. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  53. Neisser, U. (1976). Cognition and Reality. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  54. Newtson, D., and Enquist, G. (1976). The perceptual organization of ongoing behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 12, 436–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Newtson, D., Enquist, G., and Bois, J. (1977). The objective basis of behavior units. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35, 847–862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Newtson, D., Hairfield, J., Bloomingdale, J., and Cutino, S. (1987). The structure of action and interaction. Social Cognition 5, 191–237.Google Scholar
  57. Pick, H.L. Jr. (1993). Organization of spatial knowledge in children. In Spatial Representation: Problems in Philosophy and Psychology (N. Eilan, R. McCarthy, and B. Brewer, eds.), pp. 31–42. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  58. Reed, E.S. (1987). The ecological approach to cognition. In Cognitive Psychology in Question (A. Costall and A. Still, eds.), pp. 142–172. Brighton, UK: Harvester Press.Google Scholar
  59. Reed, E.S. (1988). James J. Gibson and the Psychology of Perception. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Rieser, J.J., Guth, D.A., and Hill, E.W. (1986). Sensitivity to perspective structure while walking without vision. Perception 15, 173–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rieser, J.J., and Rider, R.A. (1991). Young chidren’s spatial orientation with respect to multiple target when walking without vision. Developmental Psychology 27, 97–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schoggen, P. (1989). Behavior Settings: A Revision and Extension of Roger G. Barker’s Ecological Psychology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Spencer, C, and Darvizeh, Z. (1981). The case for developing a cognitive environmental psychology that does not underestimate the abilities of young children. Journal of Environmental Psychology 1, 21–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Thiel, P. (1970). Notes on the description, scaling, notation, and scoring of some perceptual and cognitive attributes of the physical environment. In Environmental psychology: Man and his physical setting (H. M. Proshansky, W. H. Ittelson, and L.G. Rivlin, eds), pp. 593–619. New York: Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  65. Thiel, P. (in press). People, Paths and Purposes. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  66. Thomson, J.A. (1987). Cognitive and motor representations of space and their use in human visually-guided locomotion. In Cognitive Processes and Spatial Orientation in Animal and Man. Vol. II. (P. Ellen and C. Thinus-Blanc, eds.) pp. 284–290. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  67. Tolman, E.C. (1932). Purposive Behavior in Animals and Men. New York: Century.Google Scholar
  68. Tolman, E.C. (1948). Cognitive maps in rats and men. Psychological Review 55, 189–208.Google Scholar
  69. Turvey, M.T. (1977). Contrasting orientations to the theory of visual information processing. Psychological Review, 84, 67–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Warren, W.H. (1984). Perceiving affordances: Visual guidance of stair climbing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 10, 683–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Waterman, T.H. (1989). Animal Navigation. New York: Scientific American Library.Google Scholar
  72. Weisman, G. (1981). Evaluating architectural legibility: Way-finding in the built environment. Environment and Behavior 13,189–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wohlwill, J.F. (1974). The environment is not in the head! In Environmental Design Research, Vol. 1 (W.F.E. Preiser, ed.), pp. 166–181). Stroudsburg, PA: Dowden, Hutchinson, and Ross.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Heft
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDenison UniversityGranvilleOhio

Personalised recommendations