When people see, hear, and touch (as examples) why do they experience things as in the world and not inside their heads? Or do they? If you try to stand still in a room, you sway a little bit. Looking at the room around you helps stabilize your posture. You are visually leaning against the wall. If the wall you see were only inside your head, how could you lean against it? The investigation of what people see, hear, and touch in the world [as opposed to inside the head] is the special concern of researchers in ecological psychology, Professor Mace's specialty area. Both the scientific journal, Ecological Psychology, and the scientific organization, the International Society for Ecological Psychology, were started here at Trinity. Professor Mace has been editor of the journal and executive director of the Society for their entire history. The field of ecological psychology is international and interdisciplinary. There are active laboratories in many countries and their members come not only from psychology, but also from child development, biology, neuroscience, computer science, robotics, fine arts (including painting, sculpture, theatre, and film studies), exercise science, and philosophy. Ecological psychologists think about the head as inside the world, rather than the world inside the head. Many traditional topics in psychology look different this way. The work of reformulating classic topics in an ecological way is consistently challenging and exciting.
Professor Mace tries to give his students a broad perspective on whatever they are studying. History is important as well as disciplinary contexts. History is the study of living psychology. In laboratory, students are given many phenomena that they can manipulate so they can investigate them for themselves. Topics covered in a perception class and related independent research include Magic Eye pictures, Robot vision, as well as perception and motor control in sports and the arts.
Professor Mace has sponsored Senior Thesis research independent studies, and ISP research in both visual perception and motor control -- in sports (rowing control, lacrosse stick perception, swimming technique analysis) and the arts (how do instructions on how to look at a scene affect drawing in perspective?).