The Development of the Concepts of Chance and Probability in Children

  • Bärbel Inhelder


It is both stimulating and gratifying to see great physicists and mathematicians interested in the developmental psychology of certain basic concepts of their subject. Einstein was the first to suggest to Piaget the analysis of the relation between the concepts of speed and time in children. Now it is particularly Rosenfeld, in the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, who through his original insights as theoretician and historian of physics is giving new incentives to the Genevan research in the genetic epistemology of causality. We feel honored by this current interest in our past studies on the concept of random events in children. This research was done by Piaget and myself with a team of colleagues some time ago. If we had to do it today with all the knowledge we have acquired on cognitive development in general, we could do so from a more sophisticated conceptual and methodological standpoint. In any case, a specialist on probability theory generated our research on random situations by asking us whether in every “normal” person (i.e., neither a scientist nor mental patient) there is an intuition of probability just as there is an intuition of primary numbers.


Developmental Pattern Mixed Pair Combinatorial Operation Random Collection Niels Bohr Institute 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bärbel Inhelder
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychologie et des Sciences de l’EducationUniversité de GenèveGenevaSwitzerland

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