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Discontinuities in early development of the understanding of physical causality


Aschersleben, G; Henning, A; Daum, Moritz M (2013). Discontinuities in early development of the understanding of physical causality. Cognitive Development, 28(1):31-40.

Abstract

Research on early physical reasoning has shown surprising discontinuities in developmental trajectories. Infants possess some skills that seem to disappear and then re-emerge in childhood. It has been suggested that prediction skills required in search tasks might cause these discontinuities (Keen, 2003). We tested 3.5- to 5-year-olds’ understanding of collision events using a forced-choice paradigm with reduced prediction demands. Although the group as a whole performed at chance level, when the preschoolers were subdivided into three age groups, the oldest group performed above chance level. These findings suggest that it is unlikely to be prediction skills that affect young preschoolers’ performance on physical reasoning tasks. The findings lend support to a task-demand hypothesis, which proposes that discontinuities in developmental trajectories can be explained by differences in the extent to which cognitive processes are required by the different tasks.

Abstract

Research on early physical reasoning has shown surprising discontinuities in developmental trajectories. Infants possess some skills that seem to disappear and then re-emerge in childhood. It has been suggested that prediction skills required in search tasks might cause these discontinuities (Keen, 2003). We tested 3.5- to 5-year-olds’ understanding of collision events using a forced-choice paradigm with reduced prediction demands. Although the group as a whole performed at chance level, when the preschoolers were subdivided into three age groups, the oldest group performed above chance level. These findings suggest that it is unlikely to be prediction skills that affect young preschoolers’ performance on physical reasoning tasks. The findings lend support to a task-demand hypothesis, which proposes that discontinuities in developmental trajectories can be explained by differences in the extent to which cognitive processes are required by the different tasks.

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4 citations in Web of Science®
3 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:19 Sep 2013 07:03
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 22:29
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0885-2014
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2012.09.001

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