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Some Aspects of the Development of Space Perception

Wapner, Seymour; Cirillo, Leonard; Baker, A. Harvey
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Developmental Psychology, Perceptual Development, Spatial Ability


Some empirical findings and theoretical concepts relating to space perception are presented. The development of space perception is treated from the organismic-developmental point of view. The treatment of the development of the organismic-environment system serving to organize objects and their displacements spatially is severely restricted because it depends largely on ontogenic findings from a limited age range--6 to 20 years. Yet, it derives broader significance from the basic assumption that ontogenesis is only one example of transformation of a system that can be treated effectively by comparative-developmental analysis. Other examples of organism-environment system change or differences that can be treated developmentally include comparisons between younger and aged adults, between normal and pathological adults, between individuals under placebo and drugged conditions, and between individuals under optimal and stress conditions. The essential prerequisite for such a broad treatment of diverse groups and conditions by a circumscribed set of principles is a general assumption of organismic-developmental theory: that organisms in their environmental settings constitute systems which may be analyzed and compared with one another in formal, organizational terms. In this formal comparative analysis, a system is treated as having a characteristic structure which is maintained or transformed by specifiable, dynamic processes. For each section of the paper, there is a brief presentation of work done with adults; then, the central theme, ontogenesis of spatial organization, is dealt with. Findings on age changes are described. Research on the perception of verticality is presented. Apparent body position is dealt with. Straight-ahead is discussed, as is eye level. Perceived motion is discussed with a focus on the autokinetic phenomenon. (SGK)

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