--- title: "Affordances" publish: true --- # Affordances SEE ALSO: [[Adaequatio (Adequateness)]], [[Requisite Variety]] ==This note is just a #seedling. More is coming to grow and connect it to the rest of the Field Guide.== Psychologist J.J. Gibson coined the term "affordances" to describe a complementary relationship between an animal and its environment. He suggested that the affordances offered by any environment will be relative to the nature and capacity of the animal within it. > "The *affordances* of the environment are what it *offers* the animal, what it *provides* or *furnishes*, either for good or ill. The verb *to afford* is found in the dictionary, the noun *affordance* is not. I have made it up. I mean by it something that refers to both the environment and the animal in a way that no existing term does. It implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment." (Gibston 1977) As one example, consider a hardcover book on the ground. It has fixed physical qualities as an object. But the *affordances* of that object depend entirely upon the qualities and capacities of the animal encountering it. To a small animal, like a mouse, the book offers a raised, flat surface for sitting upon. To curious and hungry animal, like a goat, it offers something to chew on. To an animal with opposable thumbs, it offers something to pick up and hold, throw, or use as a tool. And to an animal with a learned understanding of language and the written word, the same book offers meaningful narrative and knowledge (and also something to throw). --- ## Sources - Gibson, J.J. “The Theory of Affordances.” In *Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing: Toward an Ecological Psychology*, edited by R. Shaw and J. Bransford, 67–82. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1977. ## Tags (click to view related pages) #frameworks