On the Meaning of Nonconservation

  • Ron Gold
Part of the Nato Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 5)


In this brief paper, I would like to address myself to the question of whether young children’s failure on Piaget’s (1952) conservation task indicates a genuine belief in nonconservation. All of you will be familiar with the conservation task: The young child is given, for example, two rows of counters in one-one correspondence, and agrees that the rows have equal numbers of buttons. One row is then expanded or contracted and the child now says that one of the rows (usually the longer) has more than the other. Obviously, the child does not understand the question asked of him in the way an adult understands it. The issue is, however, why he doesn’t understand it.


Specific Number Training Study Equality Trial Normal Task Concept Acquisition 
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  2. Cole, M., Gay, J., Glick, J., & Sharp, D. The cultural context of learning and thinking. London: Methuen, 1971.Google Scholar
  3. Gelman, R. Conservation acquisition: A problem of learning to attend to relevant attributes. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 1969, 7, 167–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Piaget, J. The child’s conception of number. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1952.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ron Gold
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordEngland, UK

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