Psihologija 2006 Volume 39, Issue 3, Pages: 257-275
doi:10.2298/PSI0603257B
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Conservation or conversation: A test of the repeated question hypothesis

Baucal Aleksandar D., Stepanović Ivana Ž.

The main goal of the paper is to reanalyze the results of previous studies on the repeated question effect in the conservation task, and to create a more direct test of the repeated question (RQ) hypothesis (repeating of question in the conservation task may mislead concrete-operational children to give the wrong answer since they interpret the repeating as an implicit sign that their first answer is wrong). Reanalysis of previous studies shows that some original conclusions need to be modified, and that a more direct test of the RQ hypothesis is needed. Each participant (N=58, mean age 7;10) was tested by two tasks (conservation of liquid), a standard and modified version. In the modified task, liquid was poured into the same glass, so that the child’s answer was not under influence of his or her level of cognitive development, but only by the repeated question (child who was misled by the RQ would give a wrong answer). According to the RQ hypothesis, children who change their answer on the modified task also need to change their answer on the standard task. Moreover, children who resist the RQ on the standard task do not need to change their answer on the modified task. Results show a different pattern than expected by the RQ hypothesis.

Keywords: Piaget, cognitive development, conservation, conversation, repeated question

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