Can Infants Generalize Tool Use From Spoon to Rake at 18 Months? - Université Paris Nanterre Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Motor Learning and Development Year : 2022

Can Infants Generalize Tool Use From Spoon to Rake at 18 Months?


Infants start to use a spoon for self-feeding at the end of the first year of life, but usually do not use unfamiliar tools to solve problems before the age of 2 years. We investigated to what extent 18-month-old infants who are familiar with using a spoon for self-feeding are able to generalize this tool-use ability to retrieve a distant object. We tested 46 infants with different retrieval tasks, varying the tool (rake or spoon) and the target (toy or food). The tasks were presented in a priori descending order of difficulty: rake–toy condition, then either spoon–toy or rake–food, and finally spoon–food. Then, the same conditions were presented in reverse order to assess the transfer abilities from the easiest condition to the most difficult retrieval task. Spontaneously, 18-month-old infants performed the retrieval tasks better with the familiar tool, the easiest task being when the spoon was associated with food. Moreover, the transfer results show that being able to use a familiar tool in an unusual context seems necessary and sufficient for subsequent transfer to an unfamiliar tool in the unusual context, and that early and repetitive training of self-feeding with a spoon plays a positive role in later tool use.



Dates and versions

hal-04389963 , version 1 (12-01-2024)


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Laetitia Jeancolas, Lauriane Rat-Fischer, J. Kevin O’regan, Jacqueline Fagard. Can Infants Generalize Tool Use From Spoon to Rake at 18 Months?. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 2022, 10 (3), pp.412-428. ⟨10.1123/jmld.2022-0006⟩. ⟨hal-04389963⟩
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