Flamingoes, elephants and sharks: How do blind adults learn about animal appearance?

ScienceDaily | 5/21/2019 | Staff
leeann77 (Posted by) Level 3
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"First-person experience isn't the only way to develop a rich understanding of the world around us," says Judy Kim, a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins and corresponding author of the study published May 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Essentially, the question is, how do we know what we know?"

Research - Blind - People - Knowledge - Things

While some previous research has shown that blind people do have knowledge of things like light and color, researchers still have little understanding of what blind people know about appearance and how such information is learned. Some studies suggest that people born blind remember verbal facts, like 'flamingos are pink,' so the research team wanted to investigate further.

"People often have the intuition that we can't know what we can't see," says Kim.

Researchers - Blind - Adults - Names - Participants

The researchers presented 20 blind and 20 sighted adults with animal names and asked participants to: order animals by size (smallest to largest) and height (shortest to tallest); sort animals into groups based on shape, skin texture and color; pick which animal out of a group is unlike the others in shape, and choose from various texture options ("Does a hippo have feathers, fur, skin or scales?").

Overall, blind and sighted participants organized animals in similar ways and agreed on which physical features were most likely to be observed within animal groups. For example, blind and sighted participants judged that dolphins are similar in shape to sharks and sloths are similar in texture to grizzlies. 15 out of 20 blind and 19 out of 20 sighted participants judged elephants to be bigger than rhinos. But the groups also showed some differences.

Idea - People - Appearance - People - Descriptions

Contrary to the idea that blind people learn about animal appearance from sighted people's descriptions...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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