ERIC Number: ED255323
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Sep
Reference Count: 0
The Social Psychology of the Conservation Task.
Piaget's conservation experiments have been criticized and reinterpreted in the light of various theoretical orientations. Some research studies suggest social as well as cognitive factors to explain children's answers. Other research indicates the importance of interaction variables in the conservation task. Actually, interaction in the conservation experiment is an alienated relationship. The use of clinical interviews to study conservation is counter-indicated, for ignorance of the rules of interaction particular to examination may contribute to young children's failure in such tasks. Some critics of Piaget appear to think that children master the conservation problem at a much earlier age than Piaget contended. The age question, however, is a mistaken question that is unlikely to be answered. The availability of a cognitive ability is not a matter of possessing or not possessing. Cognitive development does not lead spontaneously to general and generalizable concepts, but should be thought of as the development of specific cognitive abilities, which are more or less tied to particular contexts. In keeping with this point of view, an experimental task should not be considered as a means to reveal the competence the child possesses. The experiment should be thought of as a novel situation to which the child must adapt and transmit existing knowledge by active construction. (Included in the discussion are examples of children's confrontations with conservation problems in the context of everyday life.) (RH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Clinical Interviews; Communication Patterns; Piagetian Theory; Social Interaction
Note: Paper presented at the Conference, "Beyond 1984: Future Trends in Developmental Psychology," of the British Psychological Society (Lancaster, England, September 14-17, 1984).