Direct Perception

Our perceptual acuity changes with experience through the development of affordances through direct perception. Perception of the information that is important to us is honed over time. Obviously, this is influenced by eyesight, colour blindness, hearing, nerve damage, and other factors.

The concept of direct perception was proposed by James Gibson in the 1970s. He suggested that it didn’t make sense for us to have a ‘programme’ to translate perceptual stimuli like that received by the optic nerves in our eyes. Instead, he proposed that we have evolved over time to directly perceive the meaningful information in our environment.

We have evolved to detect the information that matters to our survival whether that is finding food, avoiding danger, finding shelter, comfort, or a mate. This is why we don’t see the same information in the environment as a bat or a shark. We don’t hear the same range of sounds as a mouse or an elephant. We are, as a species, attuned to the information in the environment that is meaningful to us and that affords movement and survival.