James J. Gibson

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James J. Gibson (1904-1979) is one of the most important psychologists of the 20th century, best known for his work on visual perception. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and his first major work was The Perception of the Visual World (1950) in which he rejected behaviorism for a view based on his own experimental work. In his later works, including The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (1979), Gibson became more philosophical and criticized cognitivism in the same way he had attacked behaviorism before, arguing strongly in favor of direct perception and direct realism, as opposed to cognitivist indirect realism. He termed his new approach ‘ecological psychology’. Gibson’s legacy is increasingly influential on many contemporary movements in psychology, particularly those considered to be post-cognitivist.


  • The Perception of the Visual World, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950.
  • The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.
  • The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979; Psychology Press, 1986; 2015, 315 pp.
    • Wahrnehmung und Umwelt : der ökologische Ansatz in der visuellen Wahrnehmung, Munich: Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1982, 356 pp. (German)
    • Approche écologique de la perception visuelle, trans. & intro. Olivier Putois, afterword Claude Romano, Dehors, 2014. Afterword. (French)
  • Reasons for Realism: Selected Essays, eds. E. Reed and R. Jones, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1982.
  • with E. Gibson, "Perceptual Learning: Differentiation or Enrichment?" Psych. Rev. 62 (1955), pp 32-41.
  • "The Concept of the Stimulus in Psychology", The American Psychologist 15 (1960), pp 694-703.
  • "A Theory of Direct Visual Perception", in The Psychology of Knowing, eds. J. Royce and W. Rozenboom, New York: Gordon & Breach, 1972.
  • "The Theory of Affordances", in Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing: Toward an Ecological Psychology, eds. R. Shaw and J. Bransford, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1977, pp 67-82.
  • "The Visual Perception of Objective Motion and Subjective Movement", Psychological Review 101:2 (1994), pp 318-323.