Planning an Action: A Developmental Progression in Tool Use

Rachel Keen, Mei Hua Lee, Karen Adolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How children pick up a tool reveals their ability to plan an action with the end goal in mind. When presented with a spoon whose handle points away from their dominant hand, children between infancy and 8 years of age progress from using an awkward ulnar grip that causes food to spill from the spoon to consistently using a radial grip. At 4 years of age children's grip strategies are highly variable, including the awkward grips of infancy and use of the nondominant hand, but they also employ adultlike grips never seen in infancy. By 8 years of age the infantile ulnar grip has completely disappeared and is replaced by more mature and effective grips that indicate better planning for the end goal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-108
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Computer Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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