NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ934437
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 39
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
The Primacy of Thinking about Possibilities in the Development of Reasoning
Gauffroy, Caroline; Barrouillet, Pierre
Developmental Psychology, v47 n4 p1000-1011 Jul 2011
One of the main tenets of the mental model theory is that when individuals reason, they think about possibilities. According to this theory, reasoning on what is possible from the truth of a sentence would be psychologically basic, whereas reasoning the other way round, on the truth or falsity of a sentence from a given state of affairs, would require some meta-ability. The present study tested the developmental corollary of this theory, which is that reasoning about possibilities should develop first, whereas the development of reasoning about truth-value should be delayed. For this purpose, 3rd, 6th, and 9th graders as well as adults were presented with tasks requiring them to evaluate either the possibilities compatible with conditional sentences or the truth-value of these sentences from these same possibilities. The results revealed 2 phenomena. First, the same developmental trend was observed in both tasks with 3 successive interpretational levels: conjunctive, biconditional, and then conditional. Second, there was a developmental lag between the 2 forms of reasoning--with developmental transitions from one level to the next occurring about 3 years later when reasoning about truth-value. The implications of these results for theories of cognitive development and of reasoning are discussed. (Contains 3 tables, 2 figures and 2 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 3; Grade 6; Grade 9
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Switzerland (Geneva)