Socio-cultural norms in ecological psychology: The education of intention

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-19 (forthcoming)
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Although it is a common claim in the ecological psychology literature that our perception of the environment’s affordances is influenced by socio-cultural norms, an explanation of how this is possible remains to be offered. In this paper, I outline an account of this phenomenon by focusing on the ecological theory of perceptual learning. Two main theses are defended. First, I argue that to account for how socio-cultural norms can influence perception, we must pay attention not only to the education of attention but to the education of intention too. Consequently, I offer some ideas about how intention can be socio-normatively educated. Secondly, I hold that the education of intention occurs via the acquisition of habit-based preferences for particular actions. I claim that once we understand how these habit-based preferences relate to socio-cultural norms, the hypothesis that norms must be represented in the individual’s mind for them to influence affordance perception is no longer needed. If this hypothesis is on the right track, we can have an explanation for how perception can be normatively shaped and direct at the same time.



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Miguel Segundo-Ortin
Utrecht University

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