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The Development of Abstract Reasoning about the Physical and Social World

Zopito Marini and Robbie Case
Child Development
Vol. 65, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 147-159
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131372
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131372
Page Count: 13
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The Development of Abstract Reasoning about the Physical and Social World
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Abstract

This study investigated 3 questions: (1) Can neo-Piagetian theory predict the developmental sequence through which adolescents progress, in using an abstract form of mathematical analysis to understand the operation of a physical apparatus (the balance beam)? (2) Can the same theory be used to predict the sequence through which they pass in using an abstract form of social analysis, to understand the behavior of a story character? (3) If so, does progress through each sequence take place at the same rate? 80 subjects, aged 9-19 years, were tested. Most were found to be functioning at the level predicted by the theory on each task. A substantial minority, however, were more advanced on 1 task than the other. These results, in conjunction with those from other studies, are interpreted as indicating that abstract thought develops in a fashion that includes both general and specific components.

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