Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

A-Not-B Problem

  • Britta OsthausEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1096-1



The A-not-B error arises from the difficulty of switching an action directed toward one location toward a new location. The original set-up, called visible displacement, involves hiding a toy in location A while an infant is watching. The child is then allowed to search for it. If they retrieve the toy it is seen as an indication of object permanence – the understanding that objects continue to exist even if they are no longer perceived. After a number of repeats of this hide and seek procedure, the toy is then obviously hidden in a different location, B. Up to a certain developmental stage, infants persevere in searching in location A instead of B. This is called the A-not-B error. This behavior can be observed in reaching tasks, but also in larger spatial set-ups that require detours.


When Piaget published his theory of child development in 1937 (1954in English), it quickly became absorbed by...


Detour Task Object Permanence Detour Behavior Osthaus Visual Displacement 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology, Politics and SociologyCanterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mark A. Krause
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Oregon UniversityAshlandUSA