Can 14- to 20-month-old children learn that a tool serves multiple purposes? A developmental study on children's action goal prediction.
ABSTRACT We investigated infants' visual anticipations to the target of an ongoing tool-use action and examined if infants can learn that tools serve multiple functions and can thus be used on different targets. Specifically, we addressed the question at what age children are able to predict the goal of an ongoing tool-use action on the basis of how the actor initiates the action. Fourteen- and 20-month-old children watched a model using a tool to execute two different actions. Each way of grasping and holding the tool was predictive for its use on a particular target. Analyses revealed that the 20- but not the 14-month-olds were able to visually anticipate to the correct target during action observation, which suggests that they perceived the initial part of the tool-use action as predictive for its use on an action target.