On This Day … 30 December

People (Deaths)

  • 2002 – Eleanor J. Gibson, American psychologist and academic (b. 1910).

Eleanor J. Gibson

Eleanor Jack Gibson (07 December 1910 to 30 December 2002) was an American psychologist who focused on reading development and perceptual learning in infants.

Gibson began her career at Smith College as an instructor in 1932, publishing her first works on research conducted as an undergraduate student. Gibson was able to circumvent the many obstacles she faced due to the Great Depression and gender discrimination, by finding research opportunities that she could meld with her own interests.

Gibson, with her husband James J. Gibson, created the Gibsonian ecological theory of development, which emphasized how important perception was because it allows humans to adapt to their environments. Perhaps her most well-known contribution to psychology was the “visual cliff,” which studied depth perception in both human and animal species, leading to a new understanding of perceptual development in infants.

Gibson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1971, the National Academy of Education in 1972, and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1977. In 1992, she was awarded the National Medal of Science.

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