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A Developmental Study of Nonconservation Choices in 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, Conservation (Concept), Developmental Psychology, Preschool Children, Young Children


This study has investigated some of the factors which seem to influence nonconservation choices in young children. Specifically, the influence of proximity, manipulation, length, and density on the choice of the row with "more" in it was studied in a variety of transformations using 250 Ss aged two years five months (2-5) to 6-2. The results indicated that the factor of proximity was most important among the youngest Ss while the factor of length was the most important among the oldest Ss. The choice of the more irrelevant factors (closeness and manipulation) among the young Ss, the lower SES Ss, and the Ss who were not able to comprehend the meaning of the conservation questions was noted and the use of these factors to a more limited extent by the older Ss was also shown. Finally, the importance of being able to select transformations that more precisely evaluate the concerns of the investigator rather than the biases of the particular transformation is discussed.

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