Mismatched Tool: Determining the Properties by which Infants Categorize a Tool as “Spoon”
In a study of infant tool use, Barrett, Davis, and Needham (2007) found that previous experience with spoons prevented infants from utilizing an unusual grasp of a teaspoon to complete a novel task. Infants were, however, able to complete this same task with a novel tool that shared many of the spoon’s characteristics. Building on this prior research, the present experiment found that infants between the ages of 13 and 18 months were less likely to solve the lightbox task with the tool featuring a metal bowl similar to the spoon. Infants on the older end of the spectrum were more likely to solve and have shorter latency times than their younger counterparts. Measures of initial grasp and initial attempt were also considered. Results suggest that a metal bowl is one feature of a tool that leads infants to identify the tool as a spoon.