Advertisement

Ecological Psychology and Social Psychology: It is Holt, or Nothing!

  • Eric P. CharlesEmail author
Regular Article

Abstract

What is the greatest contribution that ecological psychologists can offer social psychology? Ideally, ecological psychologists could explain how people directly perceive the unique properties of their social partners. But social partners are distinguished from mundane objects because they possess mental traits, and tradition tells us that minds cannot be seen. When considering the ideal possibility, we reject that doctrine and posit minds as perceivable. For ecological psychology, this entails asserting that minds are the types of things able to structure ambient energy. Contemporary research and theory suggests distinctly ecological ways of attacking this problem, but the problem is not new. Almost 100 years ago, Holt argued for the visibility of minds. Thus when considering these ideas, ecological psychologists face a choice that is at once about their future and their past. Extending ecological psychology’s first principles into the social realm, we come to the point where we must either accept or reject Holt’s arguments, and the wider context they bring. In doing so, we accept or reject our ability to study the uniquely social.

Keywords

Ecological psychology Social psychology Edwin Bissell Holt James J. Gibson New realism Direct perception Embodied cognition 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Alas, all of my thanks must go out amorphously, rather than specifically: The authors who are contributing to my edited volume on Holt (coming out this Fall) have made me evermore firm in my convictions that much good would come of resurrecting this almost-forgotten man, who was once a giant. This article was spurred directly as a result of wonderful personal conversations at meetings of the International Society of Ecological Psychology, and by the published commentaries on my previous work. Regarding the latter, I must thank Jaan Valsinar and his editorial staff for creating a venue in which discussions of this type can take place. IPBS has a long history, but the diversity of ideas it has been home to, following the recent changes in leadership and format, are admirable. One can be braver when saying daring things, if he knows others will have the chance to respond.

References

  1. Charles, E. P. (2009). The (old) new realism: what Holt has to offer for ecological psychology. Integrated and Psychological Behavioral Science, 43, 53–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Costall, A. (1995). Socializing affordances. Theory and Psychology, 5, 467–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Friedman, H. (2005). Problems of romanticism in transpersonal psychology: a case study of Aikido. The Humanistic Psychologist, 33, 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gaver, W. W. (1996). Situating action II: affordances for interaction: the social is material for design. Ecological Psychology, 8, 111–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gibson, J. J. (1961). Ecological optics. Visual Research, 1, 253–262.Google Scholar
  6. Gibson, J. J. (1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  7. Gibson, J. J. (1967a). James J. Gibson. In G. Lindzey (Ed.), A history of psychology in autobiography, vol. 5 (pp. 125–143). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gibson, J. J. (1967b). New reasons for realism. Synthese, 17, 162–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gibson, E. J. (1969). Perceptual learning and development. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  10. Gibson, J. J. (1972). Outline of a theory of direct visual perception. In J. R. Royce & W. W. Rozeboom (Eds.), The psychology of knowing (pp. 215–227). New York: Gordon & Breach.Google Scholar
  11. Gibson, J. J. (1979, July 18). [Letter to Edward Reed]. Department of manuscripts and university archives, Cornell university libraries (James J. Gibson Papers, Series VII, Box 15, Folder 1), Ithaca, NY.Google Scholar
  12. Gibson, J. J. (1986). The ecological approach to visual perception. New Jersey: Erlbaum. Original work published 1979.Google Scholar
  13. Gibson, J. J., & Gibson, E. J. (1955). Perceptual learning: differentiation or enrichment? Psychological Review, 62, 32–41.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Good, J. M. M. (2007). The affordances for social psychology of the ecological approach to social knowing. Theory and Psychology, 17, 265–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Good, J., & Still, A. (1989). Ecological psychology as a theory of social cognition. In A. Gellantly, D. Rogers, & J. Sloboda (Eds.), Cogntion and social worlds (pp. 216–229). New York: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  16. Hamlyn, D. W. (1977). The concept of information in Gibson’s theory of perception. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 7, 5–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heft, H. (2001). Ecological psychology in context: James Gibson, Roger Barker, and the Legacy of William James’ Radical Empiricism. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  18. Heft, H. (2010). Holt’s ‘recession of the stimulus’ and the emergence of the ‘situation’ in psychology. In E. P. Charles (Ed.), A new look at new realism: E. B. Holt reconsidered. Edison: Transactions.Google Scholar
  19. Hodges, B. H., & Baron, R. M. (2007). On making social psychology more ecological and ecological psychology more social. Ecological Psychology, 19, 79–84.Google Scholar
  20. Hodges, B. H., & Lindhiem, O. (2006). Carrying babies and groceries: the effect of moral and social weight on caring. Ecological Psychology, 18, 93–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Holt, E. B. (1912). The place of illusory experience in a realistic world. In E. B. Holt, W. T. Marvin, W. P. Montague, R. B. Perry, W. B. Pitkin, & E. G. Spaulding (Eds.), The new realism: Coöperative studies in philosophy (pp. 307–373). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  22. Holt, E. B. (1914). The concept of consciousness. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  23. Holt, E. B. (1915). The Freudian wish and its place in ethics. New York: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hristovski, R., Davids, K. W., & Araújo, D. (2006). Affordance controlled bifurcations of action patterns in martial arts. Nonlinear Dynamics Psychology, and Life Sciences, 10, 409–444.Google Scholar
  25. Kelso, J. A. (2008). An essay on understanding the mind. Ecological Psychology, 20, 180–208.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Knowles, P., & Smith, D. (1982). The ecological perspective applied to social perception. Theory of Social Behavior, 12, 53–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kono, T. (2009). Social affordances and the possibility of ecological linguistics. Integrated Psychological and Behavioral Science, 43, 356–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, D. N., & Redish, P. E. (1981). Plummeting gannets: a paradigm for ecological optics. Nature, 293, 293–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lee, D. N., Davies, M. N. O., Green, P. R., & Van der Weel, F. R. (2007). Visual control of velocity of approach by pigeons when landing. In G. Pepping & M. A. Grealy (Eds.), Closing the gap: The scientific writings of David N. Lee (pp. 87–112). Hillsdale: Erlbaum. Reprinted from Journal of Experimental Biology, 290, 169–179, 1993.Google Scholar
  30. Lopresti-Goodman, S. M., Richardson, M. J., Silva, P. L., & Schmidt, R. C. (2008). Period basin of entrainment for unintentional visual coordination. Journal of Motor Behavior, 40, 3–10.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Loveland, K. A. (1991). Social affordances and interaction II: autism and the affordances of the human environment. Ecological Psychology, 3, 99–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mark, L. S. (2007). Perceiving the actions of other people. Ecological Psychology, 19, 107–136.Google Scholar
  33. McArthur, L. Z., & Baron, R. M. (1983). Toward an ecological theory of social perception. Psychological Review, 90, 215–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pepping, G., & Grealy, M. A. (2007). Closing the gap: The scientific writings of David N. Lee. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  35. Perry, R. B. (1910). The journal of philosophy psychology and scientific methods. Journal of Philosophy, 7, 5–14.Google Scholar
  36. Reed, E. S. (1998). The affordances of the animate environment: Social science from the ecological point of view. In T. Ingold (Ed.), What is an animal (pp. 110–126). Oxford: University Printing House.Google Scholar
  37. Reed, E. S., & Jones, R. (1982). Reasons for realism: Selected essays of James J. Gibson. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  38. Richardson, M. J., Shockley, K., Fajen, B. R., Riley, M. A., & Turvey, M. T. (2008). Ecological psychology: Six principles for an embodied–embedded approach to behavior. In P. Calvo & T. Gomila (Eds.), Handbook of cognitive science: An embodied approach (pp. 161–187). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  39. Schmidt, R. C. (2007). Scaffolds for social meaning. Ecological Psychology, 19, 137–152.Google Scholar
  40. Schmidt, R. C., & O’Brien, B. (1997). Evaluating the dynamics of unintended interpersonal coordination. Ecological Psychology, 9, 189–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shaw, R. (2001). Processes, acts, and experiences: three stances on the problem of intentionality. Ecological Psychology, 13, 275–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shaw, R. (2002). Theoretical hubris and the willingness to be radical: an open letter to James J. Gibson. Ecological Psychology, 14, 235–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shaw, R. (2010). Ecological realism as a reaction to new realism: Holt’s legacy to Gibson. In E. P. Charles (Ed.), A new look at new realism: E. B. Holt reconsidered. Edison: Transactions.Google Scholar
  44. Shaw, R., & Kinsella-Shaw, J. (1988). Ecological mechanics: a physical geometry for intentional constraints. Human Movement Science, 7, 155–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shaw, R., Flascher, O., & Kadar, E. (1995). Dimensionless invariants for intentional systems: measuring the fit of vehicular activities to environmental layout. In J. Flach, P. Hancock, J. Caird, & K. Vicente (Eds.), Global perspectives on the ecology of human—Machine systems. Vol. 1 (pp. 293–357). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Still, A. W., & Good, J. M. M. (1992). Mutualism in the human science: towards the implementation of a theory. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 22, 105–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Thompson, N. S. (1997). Communication and natural design. In N. S. Thompson, (Series Ed.), D. Owings & M. Beecher (Vol. Eds.), Perspectives in ethology, Vol. 12: Communication. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  48. Thompson, N. S. (2010). Interview with an old new realist. In E. P. Charles (Ed.), A new look at new realism: E. B. Holt reconsidered. Edison: Transactions.Google Scholar
  49. Tolman, E. C. (1926). A behavioristic theory of ideas. Psychological Review, 33, 352–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Travieso, D., & Jacobs, D. M. (2009). The ecological level of analysis: can neogibsonian principles be applied beyond perception and action? Integrated Psychological and Behavioral Science, 43, 393–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Turvey, M. T. (1992). Affordances and prospective control: an outline of the ontology. Ecological Psychology, 4, 173–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Turvey, M. T., & Schmidt, R. C. (1994). A low-dimensional nonlinear dynamic governing interlimb rhythmic coordination. In S. P. Swinnen, H. Heuer, J. Massion, & P. Casaer (Eds.), Interlimb coordination: Neural, dynamical, and cognitive constraints (pp. 277–300). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  53. Valenti, S. S., & Good, J. M. (1991). Social affordances and interaction: I. Introduction. Ecological Psychology, 3, 77–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van Acker, R., & Valenti, S. S. (1989). Perception of social affordances by children with mild handicapping conditions: implications for social skills research and training. Ecological Psychology, 1, 383–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Westbook, A., & Ratti, O. (1970). Aikido and the dynamic sphere: An illustrated introduction. North Clarendon: Tuttle.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Education, Humanities, and Social SciencesThe Pennsylvania State University, AltoonaAltoonaUSA

Personalised recommendations