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Publications [#48891] of Amy Needham

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Journal Articles

  1. Barrett, T.M., Davis, E.F., & Needham, A. (2007). Learning about tools in infancy. Developmental Psychology, 43(2), 352-368.
    (last updated on 2007/03/24)

    These experiments explored the role of prior experience in 12- to 18-month-old infants' tool-directed actions. In Experiment 1, infants' use of a familiar tool (spoon) to accomplish a novel task (turning on lights inside a box) was examined. Infants tended to grasp the spoon by its handle even when doing so made solving the task impossible (the bowl did not fit through the hole in the box, but the handle did) and even though the experimenter demonstrated a bowl-grasp. In contrast, infants used a novel tool flexibly and grasped both sides equally often. In Experiment 2, infants received training using the novel tool for a particular function; 3 groups of infants were trained to use the tool differently. Later, infants' performance was facilitated on tasks that required infants to grasp the part of the tool they were trained to grasp. The results suggest that (a) infants' prior experiences with tools are important to understanding subsequent tool use, and (b) rather than learning about tool function (e.g., hammering), infants learn about which part of the tool is meant to be held, at least early in their exposure to a novel tool.

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