Visual Cliff Experiment from Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky
In Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky has grouped research into seven critical areas that children need most: (1) focus and self control; (2) perspective taking; (3) communicating; (4) making connections; (5) critical thinking; (6) taking on challenges; and (7) self-directed, engaged learning.
For each of these skills, Galinsky shows caregivers what the studies have proven, and she provides numerous concrete things that you can do to strengthen these skills in children. They are the skills that give children the ability to focus on their goals so that they can learn more easily and communicate what they have learned. These are the skills that prepare children for the pressures of modern life, skills that they will draw on now and for years to come.
All week we have been reviewing video clips from the vook (video book) Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky. Below is the Visual Cliff experiment by UC Berkely Professor, Jo Campos. We communicate with children in many ways and in this experiment we see that visual communication with caregivers, especially parents, is essential in the development of babies.
In this experiment, a baby is placed on a large box that’s covered by a piece of clear plexi-glass. Halfway across, there’s what looks like a drop, though it’s clearly safe to cross thanks to the sturdy platform. On the opposite side of the platform is the baby’s mother, either making a smiling face (signaling to the baby that it’s okay to cross), or a fearful face (which tells the baby to stay put).
As Amy McCampbell (who helped film and narrate the vook) explains, "The experiment is so powerful. You can really see the babies reading their parents to try to figure out what to do."
She continues, "If you’re around kids, you see this phenomenon all the time. A child falls, and then looks up to an adult to see how they’re supposed to react. Calm adult, calm(er) child. Hysterical adult… well, you can imagine."
Watch the Visual Cliff experiment below. Then let us know: are you a calm caregiver or a hysterical caregiver?