James Jerome Gibson (January 27 1904–December 11 1979), was an American psychologist who received his Ph.D. from Princeton University's Department of Psychology, considered one of the most important 20th century psychologists in the field of visual perception. In his classic work The Perception of the Visual World (1950) he rejected the fashionable behaviorism for a view based on his own experimental work, which pioneered the idea that animals 'sampled' information from the 'ambient' outside world. He also coined the term 'affordance', meaning the interactive possibilities of a particular object or environment. This concept has been extremely influential in the field of design and ergonomics: see for example the work of Donald Norman who worked with Gibson, and has adapted many of his ideas for his own theories.
In his later work (such as, for example, The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (1979)), Gibson became more philosophical and criticised cognitivism in the same way he had attacked behaviorism before. Gibson argued strongly in favour of 'direct perception', or 'direct realism' (as pioneered by the Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid), as opposed to cognitivist 'indirect realism'. He termed his new approach ecological psychology. He also rejected the information processing view of cognition. Gibson is increasingly influential on many contemporary movements in psychology, particularly those considered to be post-cognitivist.
Gibson was married to fellow psychologist Eleanor Gibson.