Crawling versus Walking Infants' Perception of Affordances for Locomotion over Sloping Surfaces

Karen E. Adolph, Marion A. Eppler, Eleanor J. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

14‐month‐old toddlers vs. 8.5‐month‐old crawling infants were encouraged to ascend and descend a sloping walkway (10°, 20°, 30°, and 40°). Infants in both locomotor groups overestimated their ability to ascend slopes. However, on descending trials where falling was more aversive, most toddlers switched from walking to sliding positions for safe descent, but crawlers plunged down headfirst and many fell at each increment. Toddlers touched and hesitated most before descending 10° and 20° slopes, and they explored alternative means for descent by testing out different sliding positions before leaving the starting platform. In contrast, crawlers touched and hesitated most before descending 30° and 40° slopes, and they never explored alternative sliding positions. In addition, we analyzed measures of locomotor skill and experience in relation to children's ability to perceive affordances. Findings indicate that children must learn to perceive affordances for locomotion over slopes and that learning may begin by fine‐tuning of exploratory activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1158-1174
Number of pages17
JournalChild development
Volume64
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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