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Conservation of Number in Very Young Children

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, Social Differences, Young Children


This study has investigated the presence of conservation of number in 117 children aged 2-5 to 4-4. Using a more complete method than seen in previous conservation studies with this age group (Braine, Bruner, Mehler & Bever), 2% of the Ss were found to be conservers. Comparisons were also made with the results of similar procedures used with Ss aged 4-3 to 6 years. Age and SES differences in conservation attainment were found but no sex differences. Further, the difference in the conservation score between the SES groups in the younger sample (2-5 to 4-4) was found to be equivalent to about one year while the gap between the social classes at ages 4-5 to 6 was nearly two years. The importance of the methodology in measuring number conservation is also discussed.

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