Meaning Affordances

How can the Gibsonian approach handle the problem of meaning? Gibson (1979) claimed that all the potential uses of objects (their affordances) are directly perceivable. For example, a ladder "affords" ascent or descent, and a chair "affords" sitting. The notion of affordances was even applied (implausibly) to postboxes (Gibson, 1979, p. 139): "The postbox...affords letter-mailing to a letter-writing human in a community with a postal system. This fact is perceived when the postbox is identified as such." Most objects give rise to more than one affordance, with the particular affordance that influences behaviour depending on the perceiver's current psychological state. Thus, a hungry person will perceive the affordance of edibility when presented with an orange and so eat it, whereas an angry person may detect the affordance of a projectile and throw the orange at someone.

Gibson assumed that most perceptual learning has occurred during the history of mankind, and so does not need to occur during the individual's lifetime. However, we have to learn which affordances will satisfy particular goals, and we need to learn to attend to the appropriate aspects of the visual environment. According to Gibson's theory (Gordon, 1989, p. 161), "The most important contribution of learning to perception is to educate attention."

The notion of affordances forms part of Gibson's attempt to show that all the information needed to make sense of the visual environment is directly present in the visual input, and it illustrates the close relationship between perception and action. If he had not proposed the notion of affordances, or something very similar, then Gibson would have been forced to admit that the meaning of objects is stored in long-term memory.

Business Correspondence

Business Correspondence

24 chapters on preparing to write the letter and finding the proper viewpoint how to open the letter, present the proposition convincingly, make an effective close how to acquire a forceful style and inject originality how to adapt selling appeal to different prospects and get orders by letter proved principles and practical schemes illustrated by extracts from 217 actual letter.

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