An Ecological Theory of Orientation and the Vestibular System

Thomas A. Stoffregen, Gary E. Riccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


In this article we provide evidence against a fundamental assumption of traditional theories of orientation-that gravitoinertial force is perceived. We argue that orientation is based on information that is available in patterns of motion of the organism. We further argue that perception and control of orientation depend not only on information about an organism's motions relative to the local force environment but also on information about the surface of support and about the compensatory actions of the organism. We describe these kinds of information and discuss their availability to, and across, different perceptual systems. The use of this information for the control of orientation is emphasized. We conclude with recommendations for research based on the new approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1988


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