ERIC Number: ED229700
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Do Adults Use a Post-Formal "Theory of Relativity" to Solve Everyday Logical Problems?
Sinnott, Jan D.
A new concept, relativistic operations, seems to provide a link between Piagetian theory, information processing theory, logical thought in the new physics, and the nature of adults' problem solving in everyday social situations. Relativistic operations are logical, cognitive operations which can be used as a system to relate, order, and select as more useful one of the many mutually contradictory but "true" formal operational systems. In terms of Piagetian theory they are a post-formal level of thought processing; in information processing terms these operations mainly determine what is included or excluded in "problem-space" by the problem solver. Relativistic operations make possible the analysis of such complex relations as interpersonal relations. To test the assumption that these operations are present in the thinking of mature adults, male and female volunteers (N=79) aged 26-89 responded to written stimulus problems which demanded combinatorial reasoning with 2 or 3 variables. Responses were scored for the presence or absence of real-life formal operations as well as the presence or absence of relativistic operations. The results supported the assumption that relativistic operations seem to be used by many mature adults in logical problem solving. (WAS)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. on Aging (DHHS/NIH), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Piagetian Theory
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (35th, Boston, MA, November 19-23, 1982).