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According to this result then, we must accept the null hypothesis that there is no significant association between the age of the children and the ability to conserve number. Discussion Having analysed the results, with the df of 5, the critical value for an alpha value of 0. 05 is 11. 07 and because our figure was smaller than this, the result becomes non-significant. Consequently, there was no significant relationship between the age of children and their ability to conserve number. Hence the experimental hypothesis was rejected and the null hypothesis accepted.
Compared to the 3 year old children, the 5 year olds conserved slightly better. Only 4 of the 3-year-olds got the right answer whereas 5 of the 5-year-olds answered correctly. Having said this, 3 year old tended to get more wrong answers. 8 of the 3-year-olds got the wrong answer, compared to only 5 wrong answers from the five-year-olds. This shows that there may be a slight difference between 3 and 5 year olds in conserving number, as 5-year-olds seemed to conserve better. Also during the experiment it was observed that, in the 3-year-old condition, 2 out of 7 children actually counted the blocks before answering.
In contrast 5 out of 7 children counted before answering in the 5-year-old condition. The fact that those who did not count still got the right answer could be put down to the child simply guessing. As the outcomes of psychological experiments are often subject to uncertainty, interpretation is required in order to find out whether or not there is an association between the independent variable and the dependant variable. Similarly, there could be many different reasons as to why these differences occurred.
Although this study did not portray any significant gender differences, variances in gender must be taken into account. The environment a child grew up in could effect their ability to conserve. Factors such as the child’s parents financial position and educational status could effect the intelligence of a child. Due to lack of learning resources, the child’s education could suffer because they are not able to achieve their full potential. In addition, biological and innate elements could account for the differences between the ability for the child to be able to conserve.
Some children may be predisposed with such genes, which may hinder their progress. The results of this study agreed with Piaget’s views and conclusions. According to Piaget, the child did not posses the concept of the conservation of number. Similar to Piaget’s experiments and results, this study also found that there was no significant association between the child’s age and the ability to conserve. Conversely, this study refutes Light et al’s conclusion that maybe Piaget underestimated the child’s ability and stated that children can in fact conserve number.
In a psychological experiment there are many components which could have effected the results. Similarly, the sample size of this experiment could have led the results to be non-generalisable. The sample size was extremely small this could have effected the results negatively. Firstly it lacks validity and reliability because the results could not be generalised. Secondly, if more children were used there was more chance of the results being reliable. In addition, there were many methodological problems, which could have biased the results especially due to the fact that the participants were children.
During the course of the experiment, it was noticed that the children tended to give the experimenter’s opinion rather than their own by imitating the experimenters words. For instance, when the child was asked if the cubes were the same, less or more, then they tended to answer ‘more’. Conversely, when these same three words were said in a different order, the child still tended to repeat the experimenter’s last word. A way of eliminating this problem could be by asking the child to write their response down.
Alternatively, a computer could be used to lessen the interaction between the experimenter and child, in order to use these two methods. However, further investigation maybe required, as some children may not be able to read or write. Another, vital observation was made, some children, especially the three year olds tended to treat the experiment as a game. After one answer, they wanted to start playing with the cubes. This problem could be overcome by making the whole process a bit more interesting for the child.
Other factors, which were not directly visible, were that firstly, children may not understand what is being asked of them to do, therefore their answer may reflect self-desirability. Secondly, children especially the three-year-olds, do not always realise the difference between real and make believe. Thirdly, adults may find it difficult to relate to children as their emotions and ways of thinking contrast. Fourthly, children should be relaxed, they might feel threatened at the slightest of things. In addition, children need an incentive or motive to do something for someone and are very easily influenced.
A cognitive explanation of this is that children have short attention spans therefore get bored easily and want to do something else. Having said this though, problems like these exist in every experiment regardless of whether the participants are children. The sign of a true experiment is one, which devises new techniques to overcome the difficulties. In conclusion, it can be said that the findings of these studies are in line with previous studies, specifically Piaget’s. Therefore according to this study results children still do not have the ability to conserve number.