“In uncertain situations such as descending challenging slopes, social signals from caregivers can provide infants with important information for guiding action. Previous work showed that 18-month-old walking infants use social information selectively, only when risk of falling is uncertain. Experiment 1 was designed to alter infants’ region of uncertainty for walking down slopes. Slippery Teflon-soled shoes drastically impaired 18-month-olds’ ability to walk down slopes compared with walking barefoot or in standard crepe-soled shoes, shifting the region of uncertainty to a shallower range of slopes. In Experiment 2, infants wore Teflon-soled shoes while walking down slopes as their mothers encouraged and discouraged them from walking. Infants relied on social information on shallow slopes, even at 0°, where the probability of walking successfully was uncertain in the Teflon-soled shoes. Findings indicate that infants’ use of social information is dynamically attuned to situational factors and the state of their current abilities.”
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