Ecological Approaches to Cognition: Essays in Honor of Ulric Neisser

By Eugene Winograd; Robyn Fivush et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Height and Extent: Two Kinds of Size Perception

Arnold E. Stoper California State University

There was a time even before Cornell, and even before Cognitive Psychology was written--and I was there. I was Dick's graduate student and assistant at Brandeis University. To prove it, there is a published Neisser and Stoper ( 1965) paper on the topic of visual search, admittedly not the most widely cited paper in the literature. Even in those prehistoric (and, forgive me, precognitive) days at Brandeis, Dick had a deep-seated mistrust of experiments done with subjects held in head restraints in dark rooms while, in his later words, "the experimenter illuminated their retinae at his own pleasure" ( Neisser, 1976, p. 25).

Although he didn't use the term ecological validity then, Dick always placed a high value on the similarity of the experimental situation to ordinary life. This attitude was not a common one in experimental psychology in those days, and it left a deep and lasting impression on me.

My particular research interests were always more hard-core perception than Dick's. The perception of motion was always a favorite topic of mine, and my dissertation involved the problem of perceived stability of the world during saccadic and pursuit eye movements ( Stoper, 1967, 1973). It was characteristic of Dick to agree to spend much time on my dissertation, all the while encouraging me to follow my own ideas, even though my dissertation topic was not very close at all to his own research interests. Dick left Brandeis at the end of my second year of graduate school, but he continued as my advisor, with the advising done by mail.

-97-

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