The ecological approach of J. J. Gibson | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 12, Issue 3-4
  • ISSN: 1539-7785
  • E-ISSN: 2048-0717



The affordance concept became a core feature of psychologist J. J. Gibson’s later work informing his ‘ecological approach’ to perception. Affordance refers to the practical properties of objects or artefacts; how these properties illuminate the many different possibilities and prohibitions for thought and action that emerge in that altered context. The aim of this article is to detail how and where Gibson’s thinking aligns with, qualifies, and extends the general methodological approach of media ecology, with a special focus on his affordance concept as an analogue to Marshall McLuhan’s technological extension or prosthesis idea. With a soft kind of determinism operating in the background, the affordance and extension can work synergistically to help us understand how the formal properties of some things, and the interaction of organisms and things does much to enable, limit, delimit, and even help determine what some thing or someone can do.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): affordance; ecological approach; environment; extension; niche; technology
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