Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

How prior experience and task presentation modulate innovation in 6-year-old-children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Sonja J. Ebel, Daniel Hanus, Josep Call

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Low innovation rates have been found with children until 6–8 years of age in tasks that required them to make a tool. Little is known about how prior experience and task presentation influence innovation rates. In the current study, we investigated these aspects in the floating peanut task (FPT), which required children to pour water into a vertical tube to retrieve a peanut. In three experiments, we varied the amount of plants that 6-year-olds (N = 256) watered prior to the task (zero, one, or five plants), who watered the plants (child or experimenter), and the distance and salience of the water source. We expected that prior experience with the water would modulate task performance by either boosting innovation rates (facilitation effect) or reducing them given that children would possibly learn that the water was for watering plants (functional fixedness effect). Our results indicate robustly low innovation rates in 6-year-olds. However, children’s performance improved to some extent with increased salience of the water source as well as with an experimenter-given hint. Due to the low innovation rates in this age group, we investigated whether watering plants prior to the FPT would influence innovation rates in 7- and 8-year-olds (N = 33), for which we did not find evidence. We conclude that 6-year-olds struggle with innovation but that they are more likely to innovate if crucial aspects of the task are made more salient. Thus, although 6-year-olds can innovate, they require more physical and social scaffolding than older children and adults.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-103
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume180
Early online date9 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

    Research areas

  • Causal understanding, Floating peanut task, Functional fixedness, Innovation, Primates, Prior experience

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Targeted helping and cooperation in zoo-living chimpanzees and bonobos

    Nolte, S. & Call, J., 10 Mar 2021, In: Royal Society Open Science. 8, 3, 19 p., 201688.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Non-human primates use combined rules when deciding under ambiguity

    Romain, A., Broihanne, M-H., De Marco, A., Ngoubangoye, B., Call, J., Rebout, N. & Dufour, V., 1 Mar 2021, In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 376, 1819

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Chimpanzees behave prosocially in a group-specific manner

    van Leeuwen, E. J. C., DeTroy, S. E., Kaufhold, S. P., Dubois, C., Schütte, S., Call, J. & Haun, D. B. M., 24 Feb 2021, In: Science Advances. 7, 9, 10 p., eabc7982.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Evaluating the influence of action- and subject-specific factors on chimpanzee action copying

    Motes-Rodrigo, A., Mundry, R., Call, J. & Tennie, C., 10 Feb 2021, In: Royal Society Open Science. 8, 2, 20 p., 200228.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Common knowledge that help is needed increases helping behavior in children

    Siposova, B., Grueneisen, S., Helming, K., Tomasello, M. & Carpenter, M., Jan 2021, In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 201, 104973.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Better all by myself: gaining personal experience, not watching others, improves 3-year-olds’ performance in a causal trap task

    Yuniarto, L., Gerson, S. & Seed, A. M., Jun 2020, In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 194, 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Do 7-year-old children understand social leverage?

    Sánchez-Amaro, A., Duguid, S., Call, J. & Tomasello, M., Nov 2020, In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 199, 104963.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Automatic imitation effects are influenced by experience of synchronous action in children

    O'Sullivan, E. P., Caldwell, C. A. & Bijvoet-van den Berg, S., Jul 2018, In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 171, p. 113-130

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 257381272

Top