Visual Cliff: Infant Depth Perception

Ori­gin­al archive video of Gib­son and Walk’s Visu­al Cliff exper­i­ment: test­ing infant depth per­cep­tion by get­ting them to walk over glass plates sus­pen­ded above a drop.

The research­ers wanted to find out wheth­er 6 to 14 month-old infants could per­ceive depth.

The study put the infants, one at a time, in the middle of a table, with one side replaced by glass so you could see the ‘drop’.

Their moth­ers would try and tempt them over both sides, and if the kids had no depth per­cep­tion, the glass ‘drop’ would­n’t seem scary and they’d just walk straight over. Those who could see the ‘drop’ would avoid it.

Pretty much none of the infants wanted to walk across the ‘visu­al cliff’, sug­gest­ing that even kids of 6 months old could per­ceive depth.

But what of infants young­er than this? When does depth per­cep­tion devel­op?

In 1973, a study by psy­cho­lo­gist Andrew Schwartz placed five and nine-month olds on each side of the ‘visu­al cliff’ and meas­ured their heart rate.

When placed over the glass ‘drop’, the five month olds typ­ic­ally showed no increase in heart rate, sug­gest­ing there was no danger response. This sug­gests depth per­cep­tion prob­ably kicks in between about five and six months old.

via Mind Hacks

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