Reevaluation of the literature on the development of transitive inferences

  • Breslow L
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Abstract

Reevaluates literature on the development of transitive inferences, particularly criticisms raised by T. Trabasso et al (1975, 1977) regarding Piaget's theory of transitive inference ability. Trabasso claims to have demonstrated that the conceptual understanding underlying transitive reasoning does not develop with age, as Piaget claimed, but can be found among Ss as young as 4 yrs of age if language comprehension and memory are controlled. In reply, the difficulty of distinguishing between the understanding of lower and higher level Ss on the basis of average performance over many trials is discussed. Instead of analyzing data from the early and later trials of the task, it is suggested that Ss' behavior be analyzed as it evolves during the tasks to assess the concepts with which Ss approach them. Neither the creation nor the use of a seriated ordering by Ss in Trabasso's tasks is considered to provide evidence against the structural developmental account of transitivity. It is concluded that there is no evidence that conceptual structures can be reduced to information-processing systems derived from conceptual structures. (69 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Author-supplied keywords

  • theories & experimental methodology, development of transitive inferences, reevaluation of literature

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Authors

  • Leonard Breslow

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