Infants' perception of affordances of slopes under high- and low-friction conditions

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2010 Aug;36(4):797-811. doi: 10.1037/a0017450.


Three experiments investigated whether 14- and 15-month-old infants use information for both friction and slant for prospective control of locomotion down slopes. In Experiment 1, high- and low-friction conditions were interleaved on a range of shallow and steep slopes. In Experiment 2, friction conditions were blocked. In Experiment 3, the low-friction surface was visually distinct from the surrounding high-friction surface. In all three experiments, infants could walk down steeper slopes in the high-friction condition than they could in the low-friction condition. Infants detected affordances for walking down slopes in the high-friction condition, but in the low-friction condition, they attempted impossibly slippery slopes and fell repeatedly. In both friction conditions, when infants paused to explore slopes, they were less likely to attempt slopes beyond their ability. Exploration was elicited by visual information for slant (Experiments 1 and 2) or by a visually distinct surface that marked the change in friction (Experiment 3).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Concept Formation*
  • Decision Making
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Female
  • Friction*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Orientation*
  • Postural Balance
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Psychophysics
  • Shoes
  • Surface Properties
  • Visual Perception*
  • Walking*