Postural and Object-Oriented Experiences Advance Early Reaching, Object Exploration, and Means–End Behavior


  • This study was conducted as the doctoral thesis for M.A.L. and was funded by dissertation fellowships through The University of Delaware. We thank the families who generously agreed to participate in this study, our wonderful undergraduate research assistants, especially Rachel Farley, Rebecca Silver, Lindsey Moore, Morgan Randles, and Lauren Emerson, for hours of coding assistance and the members of the thesis committee, Nancy Getchell, Slobodon Jaric, and Mark Stanton, for their invaluable input throughout the project.

concerning this article should be addressed to Michele A. Lobo, Motor Behavior Laboratory, Department of Physical Therapy, 329 McKinly Lab Building, The University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716. Electronic mail may be sent to


The effects of 3 weeks of social (control), postural, or object-oriented experiences on 9- to 21-week-old infants’ (N = 42) reaching, exploration, and means–end behaviors were assessed. Coders recorded object contacts, mouthing, fingering, attention, and affect from video. Postural and object-oriented experiences advanced reaching, haptic exploration of objects, and developing means–end behavior compared to social experience. Object-oriented experience best-advanced means–end behavior. The results suggest that the development of novel behaviors is dependent on multiple subsystems and can be similarly advanced by addressing a variety of these subsystems. They also suggest that past experiences with active object exploration can facilitate early information processing and the development of early knowledge.