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Abstract

Work with infants on the “visual cliff” links avoidance of drop-offs to experience with self-produced locomotion. Adolph's (2002) research on infants' perception of slope and gap traversability suggests that learning to avoid falling down is highly specific to the postural context in which it occurs. Infants, for example, who have learned to avoid crossing risky slopes while crawling must learn anew such avoidance when they start walking. Do newly walking infants avoid crossing the drop-off of the visual cliff? Twenty prewalking but experienced crawling infants were compared with 20 similarly aged newly walking infants on their reactions to the visual cliff. Newly walking infants avoided moving onto the cliff's deep side even more consistently than did the prewalking crawlers. Thus, in the context of drop-offs in visual texture, our results show that once avoidance of drop-offs is established under conditions of crawling, it is developmentally maintained once infants begin walking.