chapter  3
12 Pages

Johansson's Approach to Visual Event Perception- Gibson's Perspective Introduction

ByWilliam M. Mace

Gunnar Johansson's paper described some of the work which established him as one of our most important perceptual psychologists. Indeed , the idea of a whole conference on event perception might not have arisen without Johansson's contributions. Everyone involved in research on event perception should be grateful for his persistence because it has taken so long for the larger psychological community. particularly in the U.S., to resonate to issues in event perception. A superficial modern history of event perception would note the pioneering work of Mach and Exner, then von Ehrenfels, Wertheimer, Heider, Rubin, Di.incker, Michotte, and Johansson ' s earliest work (Boring, 1942; Johansson, 1978). Out of all this , however. it was not "events" which were given sustained attention , but "motion." Heider (Heider, 1926/ 1959; Heider & Simmel, 1944) , Michotte (Michotte, Thines, & Crabbe, 1964), and Johansson's contributions. together with, say. those of Benussi, Musatti, Wallach, and Metzger, remained interesting phenomena that were often noted but rarely pursued. The critical conditions for " uptake" have not been satisfied unti I recently. Thus event perception per se has a history that is arguably as old as most topics in experimental psychology , but its consolidation as a genuine subject matter worth the efforts of research programs, as opposed to a mere collection of entertaining curiosities, owes much to Professor Johansson.