Supporting Study: Piaget & Inhelder (1956)

Aim: To investigate the notion of egocentrism in children.

Procedure: Using preschool students, they showed them a scene with three mountains, each having a distinctive landmark. A doll was placed on the opposite side of the mountain scene, also opposite to the child. They then asked the child to choose a picture that showed what the doll could see from its perspective. The child was then placed on a different side of the mountain and asked the same question. Below is a picture showing the set-up of the task:

Piaget & Inhelder (1956)http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/devel/ibank/image/0063.jpg

Findings & Conclusion: They found that children between 4 and 5 years old chose pictures that showed the mountain from their own perspective. Children who were 6 years old still chose pictures from their perspective but demonstrated awareness that there are other viewpoints. This supports the notion of egocentrism as the child is only aware of their surroundings from their own perspective.

Evaluation: Piaget is criticized for his studies being too linguistically advanced for the child participants. Hughes (1975) did a variation on Piaget & Inhelder’s (1956) study by using a doll and two policeman dolls. He found that because the task was more relevant to the children, more were able to understand the task and take a perspective other than their own.

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