Compensation arguments on conservation tasks

Jacqueline Goodnow*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    In conservation tasks, the reasons children use to support their judgments may be based on identity, reversibility by inversion, and reversibility by compensation. While an understanding of all 3 types of argument is regarded as essential to conservation achievement, conflicting results have been obtained as to the coemergence of these factors. The present study with 40 1st graders (mean age = 80 mo.) and 40 2nd graders (mean age = 93 mo.) investigated whether the type of inquiry used to elicit reasons for S's judgments can partially account for this discrepency. In a conservation of liquids task, 52 Ss stated "same" (i.e., quantity was conserved). One half of the Ss in this subgroup were asked "How do you know?" and the other 1/2 were asked why they stated "same" when observation would indicate that the water level remained the same (Genevan statement). Results show that the proportion of compensation arguments increased with age; all other arguments were of the identity type. Compensation arguments were more readily elicited by the Genevan statement, particularly with older Ss. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)140
    Number of pages1
    JournalDevelopmental Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1973


    • identity vs. reversibility by inversion vs. compensation, reasons for judgments on conservation, 1st & 2nd graders


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