Is tool modification more difficult than innovation?

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Children easily learn about tools from others, but have difficulty innovating tools independently. The current studies combine these research areas and explore the social influences on children’s ability to innovate their own tools from already modified materials. In Experiment 1 (N = 104) 5- to- 8-year-olds were unaffected by statements of designer’s intentions. Children were drawn to using modified materials in all conditions, but did not alter them to make functional tools. Experiment 2 (N = 163) found that children were not drawn to modified materials simply because they look made. Results are discussed in relation to executive function, scale errors, and task pragmatics. Overall, we conclude that the presence of modified materials negatively affects children’s innovation of tools.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100811
JournalCognitive Development
Early online date29 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • tool innovation
  • problem solving
  • social learning
  • design stance
  • scale error


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