Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2016

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Jeff Keuss

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Michelle Casad


locomotion, front loading, walking behavior, arm loading, dual tool


The energy expenditure during load-carrying depends on the mass of the load, the position of the load on the body, and if tools are used to help transfer the load. When the load being carried is a human child, strategies employed to cope with the increased energetic burden should include males carrying older and heavier children, arm use decreasing as children become older, and tool use increasing as children become older. To uncover whether people make energetically-mediated decisions to carry children, 236 adult males and 314 adult females were observed walking around parks in Seattle, WA, while carrying a child. Details recorded included position of the child, what tools were available to carry the child, the adult’s relationship to the child, and the child’s sex and age. Males, when carrying, carried male children significantly more often (p < 0.001). Dual tool use increased significantly between 7-12 months and 18-24 months (p < 0.001). This study indicated that people will tend to make more energetically efficient decisions in carrying, but might be willing to pay extra energy costs to increase bonding or physical contact with the child and for more comfortable carrying positions.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program

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