Place-making in nature: The role of affordances and sense of presence

This seminar took place through Zoom on April 8th, 2021 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm.
Presented by: Dr. Daniel S. McConnell, Associate Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida

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Place-making in nature: The role of affordances and sense of presence
The principles of enactive cognition entail that cognition, in the form of sense-making, happens in the context of agent-environment interactions, aka the perception-action cycle. The ecological approach to perception and action emphasizes the role of the affordance in sense-making, which implicates affordances in the meaning of our experiences during agent-environment interactions. Environments can be described as places and are defined by the set of affordances present. Perceiving and acting upon the affordances in a place has been termed place-making. Because the affordance connects the agent to its place, place-making may enable a sense of presence in place. Sense of place and presence may thus be intricately linked. The current work explores this linkage and its role in fostering topophilia, or love of place. This approach offers new insights into research on presence, sense of place, biophilia and nature connectedness.

Dr. Daniel S. McConnell completed his PhD in Sensory Psychology in 1999 from Indiana University, followed by post-doctoral training at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been at UCF since 2007 and is co-director of the Technology and Aging Lab within the Human Factors and Cognitive Psychology program. His research is primarily on perception and action, focusing on affordances and the visual control of reaching and pointing movements, as well as visual and haptic spatial perception. He has also studied the visual and physical factors associated with age-related changes in motor performance. Most recently, he has been interested in extending the affordance-based perception/action approach into other domains, such as direct social perception and place theory, including the relationships between presence, place, and purpose.