ERIC Number: ED310876
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Sep
Reasoning by Young Children: Knowing When and When Not To Make an Inference.
Willatts, Peter; Duff, Susan
This study examines the ability of 20 5- and 6-year-old children to determine whether an inference could reliably be made or whether a problem was undecidable. Children were given a random series of 8 decidable and 16 undecidable problems in which they had to determine in which of 2 houses a target character could be found. There were two characters of different sizes (a giant and a dwarf) and a series of four two-dimensional houses of decreasing size. Children of both ages were successful at dealing with the decidable problems. There were no age differences in performance. Children asked for extra information more often when problems were undecidable than when they were decidable. Examination of responses to undecidable problems suggested that the more similar the appearance of the pair of houses, the easier it was to detect the problem as undecidable. Children as young as 5 years may be aware that while certain problems are undecidable and can be resolved with extra information, others remain unresolvable. Awareness of the necessity of logical reasoning appears to develop very early, and its origins may be found in the preschool years. (Author/RJC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Developmental Section Conference (Guildford, Great Britain, September 8-11, 1989).