ERIC Number: ED143452
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Mar
Reference Count: 0
The Development of Contrary-to-Fact Reasoning.
Meyer, Jerome S.
This paper reports on an investigation of children's ability to accept contrary-to-fact premises as though they were factual and to reason accordingly. A variety of questions requiring this skill were presented in semi-structured interview form to 10 to 12 subjects from each of six age groups ranging from 5 to 9 years, and to a control group of college-age subjects. Analysis of data from these interviews revealed three main stages in the development of contrary-to-fact reasoning. The first stage, characteristic of 5-year-olds tested, is termed a "strict reality orientation." The second, characteristic of most 6- to 9-year-olds, is termed a "linguistic orientation." The third, characteristic of some 9-year-olds and of the college students, was "true contrary-to-fact reasoning." Results suggest that children in the age range studied tend to solve contrary-to-fact reasoning problems on a verbal rather than logical basis, as might be expected from formal operational thinkers. The inherent logical necessity of a problem had little bearing on the subjects' responses. Subjects in all experimental groups frequently changed initially correct answers in response to mild counter-suggestion and, on other occasions, utilized contrary-to-fact premises when there was no logical necessity to do so. Tentative explanations for differences between responses of different age groups are offered. (Author/BF)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (New Orleans, Louisiana, March 17-20, 1977)