Ecological Psychology and the Two Visual Systems: Not to Worry!

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Michaels (2000) expressed concerns about the implications of the notion of 2 visual systems (Milner & Goodale, 1995) for ecological psychology. This leads her to suggest a decoupling of perception and action, by which action is separate from perception. It is suggested that although Michaels noted, on the one hand, that Milner and Goodale's approach to perception is a constructivist one, she mistakenly adopts their view that separates vision for perception from vision for action. An alternative position is presented, based on a recent article (Norman, in press), in which the parallels between the 2 visual systems, dorsal and ventral, and the 2 theoretical approaches, ecological and constructivist, are elucidated. According to this dual-process approach to perception, both systems are perceptual systems. The ecological-dorsal system is the system that picks up information about the ambient environment allowing the organism to negotiate it. It is suggested that this type of perception always processes the relevant information for action and that there is no need to sever the perception-action coupling. Ecological psychology and the 2 visual systems are quite compatible, and there is no need for concern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Computer Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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