For many, the most significant dimension of affordance theory is its grounding in first principles of Darwinian ecology: an organism and its environs are reciprocally shaped; perceptual features are adaptively molded in response to specific environmental features; both simple and complex organisms exhibit patterns of response to stimuli that are demonstrably innate. [James J.] Gibson’s work is among the first efforts to operationalize these general principles. He argued that the adaptive value of environmental objects and events are directly perceived (Kazdin, 2000). An affordance, Gibson reasoned, is defined by a pairing of an organism (and by extension, its potential or realized behavior) with specific environmental features, embedded in a particular situation or context.
Gibson’s “Affordances”: Evolution of a Pivotal Concept
Harold S. Jenkins
University of Central Oklahoma (pdf)
web site: Journal of Scientific PSychology