Perception-action development from infants to adults: Perceiving affordances for reaching through openings

Shaziela Ishak, John M. Franchak, Karen E. Adolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perceiving possibilities for action-affordances-requires sensitivity, accuracy, and consistency. In the current study, we tested children of different ages (16-month-olds to 7-year-olds) and adults to examine the development of affordance perception for reaching through openings of various sizes. Using a psychophysical procedure, we estimated individual affordance functions to characterize participants' actual ability to fit their hand through openings and individual decision functions to characterize attempts to reach. Decisions were less accurate in younger children (16-month-olds to 5-year-olds); they were more likely to attempt impossible openings and to touch openings prior to refusing, suggesting a slow developmental trend in learning to perceive affordances for fitting through openings. However, analyses of multiple outcome measures revealed that the youngest participants were equally consistent in their decision making as the oldest ones and that every age group showed sensitivity to changes in the environment by scaling their attempts to opening size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-105
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of experimental child psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Apertures
  • Body-scaling
  • Decision making
  • Motor development
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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