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The acquisition of flexible tool use in preschoolers the impact of prior experience

  • To investigate how preschoolers acquire a tool use strategy and how they adapt their tool use to a changed situation, 2- to 4-year-olds were asked to retrieve chips from a transparent box with a rod, either by stabbing and lifting through a top opening or by pushing through a front and a back opening. In both conditions, about 40% of the children acquired effective tool use by individual learning, and 90% of the other children learned this by observing only one demonstration. When confronted with a changed situation (i.e., previous opening covered, alternative opening uncovered), children perseverated with the recently learned, but now ineffective tool use strategy. Neither age nor acquisition type of the first strategy affected preschoolers' perseverations. Results indicate that prior tool use experiences have differential effects in situations that require either transferring known functions to novel objects or using a familiar tool for an alternative purpose.

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Author:Birgit ElsnerORCiDGND, Bernd Schellhas
ISSN:2190-8370 (print)
Parent Title (English):Zeitschrift für Psychologie = Journal of psychology
Place of publication:Göttingen
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2012
Year of Completion:2012
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:action planning; learning; preschoolers (2-4 years); tool use; transfer
First Page:44
Last Page:49
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Psychologie
Peer Review:Referiert