Fear of Heights in Infants?

Karen E. Adolph, Kari S. Kretch, Vanessa LoBue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based largely on the famous "visual cliff" paradigm, conventional wisdom is that crawling infants avoid crossing the brink of a dangerous drop-off because they are afraid of heights. However, recent research suggests that the conventional wisdom is wrong. Avoidance and fear are conflated, and there is no compelling evidence to support fear of heights in human infants. Infants avoid crawling or walking over an impossibly high drop-off because they perceive affordances for locomotion-the relations between their own bodies and skills and the relevant properties of the environment that make an action such as descent possible or impossible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • affordances
  • emotion
  • locomotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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