Master's Theses

Date of Award

Summer 1970

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




James Ryabik


This study was designed to investigate Piaget’s contention that cognitive conflict: prompts a more mature organization of thought. The literature has been divided about the effectiveness of cognitive conflict in fostering mental growth. Further, several recent articles have questioned whether present conflict training methods actually prompt appreciable conflict in the four to six year old children that have typically been used as Ss . Forty-one kindergartners were randomly assigned to three groups. The effectiveness of training was determined by increases in conservation of number learning (i.e., understanding that equally numbered sets can only be altered by addition or subtraction of elements and not by just changing the position of the elements). Piaget has indicated that such understanding typically marks acquisition of the more logical, comprehensive thought of middle childhood. The data indicated that conflict training did not prompt more conservation of number learning than equivalent control training. Such a result suggested that the earlier success of this training method was a consequence of practice in making numerical comparisons and not because of the arousal of cognitive conflict. Further, the fact that the comparison control group had a longer response latency than the conflict training group makes it seem doubtful that conflict training prompted appreciable cognitive conflict. The results in conjunction with the findings of recent studies make it seem doubtful that current intra-individual conflict training methods are useful with pre conservation children. However, socially generated cognitive conflict may prove effective with this population.


Copyright 1970 Harry D. Soyster


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