What infants know and what they do: Perceiving possibilities for walking through openings

John M. Franchak, Karen E. Adolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


What infants decide to do does not necessarily reflect the extent of what they know. In the current study, 17-month-olds were encouraged to walk through openings of varying width under risk of entrapment. Infants erred by squeezing into openings that were too small and became stuck, suggesting that they did not accurately perceive whether they could fit. However, a second penalty condition revealed accurate action selection when errors resulted in falling, indicating that infants are indeed perceptually sensitive to fitting through openings. Furthermore, independent measures of perception were equivalent between the two penalty conditions, suggesting that differences in action selection resulted from different penalties, not lack of perceptual sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1254-1261
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012



  • Aperture
  • Decision making
  • Gait modification
  • Motor development
  • Perception and action

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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