Young children’s tool innovation across culture : affordance visibility matters

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 9
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: Young children typically demonstrate low rates of tool innovation. However, previous studies have limited children’s performance by presenting tools with opaque affordances. In an attempt to scaffold children’s understanding of what constitutes an appropriate tool within an innovation task we compared tools in which the focal affordance was visible to those in which it was opaque. To evaluate possible cultural specificity, data collection was undertaken in a Western urban population and a remote Indigenous community. As expected affordance visibility altered innovation rates: young children were more likely to innovate on a tool that had visible affordances than one with concealed affordances. Furthermore, innovation rates were higher than those reported in previous innovation studies. Cultural background did not affect children’s rates of tool innovation. It is suggested that new methods for testing tool innovation in children must be developed in order to broaden our knowledge of young children’s tool innovation capabilities.