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Journal Articles Psychological Science Year : 2013

The Epigenesis of Wariness of Heights


Human infants with little or no crawling experience surprisingly show no wariness of heights, but such wariness becomes exceptionally strong over the life span. Neither depth perception nor falling experiences explain this extraordinary developmental shift; however, something about locomotor experience does. The crucial component of locomotor experience in this emotional change is developments in visual proprioception—the optically based perception of self-movement. Precrawling infants randomly assigned to drive a powered mobility device showed significantly greater visual proprioception, and significantly greater wariness of heights, than did controls. More important, visual proprioception mediated the relation between wariness of heights and locomotor experience. In a separate study, crawling infants’ visual proprioception predicted whether they would descend onto the deep side of a visual cliff, a finding that confirms the importance of visual proprioception in the development of wariness of heights.



Dates and versions

hal-02428281 , version 1 (05-01-2020)



Audun Dahl, Joseph Campos, David Anderson, Ichiro Uchiyama, David Witherington, et al.. The Epigenesis of Wariness of Heights. Psychological Science, 2013, 24 (7), pp.1361-1367. ⟨10.1177/0956797613476047⟩. ⟨hal-02428281⟩
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