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Conservation of Number in Very Young Children: A Replication of and Comparison With Mehler and Bever's Study

Courtney, Rosalea G.; Rothenberg, Barbara B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Carnegie Corporation, Age Differences, Cognitive Development, Concept Formation, Conservation (Concept), Developmental Psychology, Preschool Children


The recent finding by Mehler and Bever that conservation of number attainment is present in 2 and 3 year old children and then lost until after 4 1/2 years is studied in this paper through replication of the Mehler-Bever procedures and comparison of these replication results with those obtained on a more complete measure of number conservation. The results of the replication showed that although a similar percentage of the total sample "conserved" in both the original and the replicated studies, the age trends noted in the original study were not corroborated. Moreover, comparison with the results of the more complete measure of conservation showed that an extremely small percentage of Ss aged 2 years 4 months to 4 years 7 months can actually be considered conservers. Differences between the Mehler-Bever and the more complete measure in the number of Ss classified as conservers are discussed in terms of the inadequate methodology used in the former task.

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