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19 months

29 months

15 months

22 months

45 months

Exploration in Virtual Problem Solving

Possibilities for action depend on the relation, or fit, between physical features of the environment and biodynamic characteristics of the body—what Gibson termed “affordances.” Affordances are objective body-environment relations. Actions are possible or not, regardless of whether affordances are perceived or used. However, affordances must be perceived to select and modify actions adaptively.

Previous work has focused on children’s discovery and implementation of overt affordances such as reaching for objects
and squeezing through apertures. Information for overt affordances is readily available through perceptual information and no particular action is required.


In contrast, the information for affordances of many everyday artifacts is hidden and requires discovery and implementation of a non-obvious, specifically designed target action. How do young children solve problems with hidden affordances and discover that the graspable cap of a container requires a left-twisting action to open or that a closed door requires pushing or pulling?

In this project, we use virtual games to reveal the developmental relations among exploration and successful implementation of problems with overt and hidden affordances.

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