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An ecological psychology approach to the study of audiences
Unformatted Document Text:  ecological theory...2 its audience, one that draws on a broad range of contemporary theory in social science. Ecological psychology and its application to the study of the media audience Ecological psychology has been applied most frequently in the context of cognition, such as the work of James Gibson in visual perception (Gibson, 1966, 1979). However, several authors have argued that Gibson’s theories have relevance for psychology in general, and important implications for social psychology (Costall, 1995; Greeno, 1994; Reed, 1996a). Others, writing from a social constructionist or critical psychology perspective, have hinted that ecological theory might provide a solution to the individual/social dichotomy of traditional psychology (Parker, 1992; Reed, 1996b; Sampson, 1989). As Reed (1996a, p. 184) has put it, ecological psychology is not a matter of prioritising nature over nurture, or the environment over the individual. Its focus is on the encounter between the animal and its surroundings. In the case of modern humans, living for the most part in a built environment, saturated with all manner of cultural artefacts, these encounters are necessarily social (Costall, 1995). One of the key concepts in Gibsonian theory is that any environment contains a number of features that we can identify as having affordances. In the context of the encounter between an animal and the environment, the affordance refers to “whatever it is about the environment that contributes to the kind of interaction that occurs” (Greeno, 1994, p. 338).

Authors: Giles, David.
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ecological theory...2
its audience, one that draws on a broad range of contemporary theory in social
science.
Ecological psychology and its application to the study of the media audience
Ecological psychology has been applied most frequently in the context of cognition,
such as the work of James Gibson in visual perception (Gibson, 1966, 1979).
However, several authors have argued that Gibson’s theories have relevance for
psychology in general, and important implications for social psychology (Costall,
1995; Greeno, 1994; Reed, 1996a). Others, writing from a social constructionist or
critical psychology perspective, have hinted that ecological theory might provide a
solution to the individual/social dichotomy of traditional psychology (Parker, 1992;
Reed, 1996b; Sampson, 1989).
As Reed (1996a, p. 184) has put it, ecological psychology is not a matter of
prioritising nature over nurture, or the environment over the individual. Its focus is on
the encounter between the animal and its surroundings. In the case of modern
humans, living for the most part in a built environment, saturated with all manner of
cultural artefacts, these encounters are necessarily social (Costall, 1995). One of the
key concepts in Gibsonian theory is that any environment contains a number of
features that we can identify as having affordances. In the context of the encounter
between an animal and the environment, the affordance refers to “whatever it is about
the environment that contributes to the kind of interaction that occurs” (Greeno, 1994,
p. 338).


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