Problem solving in infancy: the emergence of an action plan.

M. E. McCarty, R. K. Clifton, R. R. Collard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Young children's strategies were evaluated as they grasped and used objects. Spoons containing food and toys mounted on handles were presented to 9-, 14-, and 19-month-old children with the handle alternately oriented to the left and right. The alternating orientations revealed strategies that the children used for grasping items. Younger children usually reached with their preferred hand, disregarding the item's orientation. In the case of the spoon, this strategy produced awkward grasps that had to be corrected later. Older children anticipated the problem, alternated the hand used, and achieved an efficient radial grip (i.e., handle grasped with base of thumb toward food or toy end) for both orientations. A model of the development of action-selection strategies is proposed to illustrate planning in children younger than 2 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1101
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1999


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