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Continuities and Discontinuities in Children and Scholarship


  • I am grateful to Michael Chandler and Willis Overton for their thoughtful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Lynn Liben, Department of Psychology, 450 Moore Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. Electronic mail may be sent to


This article introduces a collection of essays on continuity and discontinuity in cognitive development. In his lead essay, J. Kagan (2008) argues that limitations in past research (e.g., on number concepts, physical solidarity, and object permanence) render conclusions about continuity premature. Commentaries respectively (1) argue that longitudinal contexts are essential for interpreting developmental data, (2) illustrate the value of converging measures, (3) identify qualitative change via dynamical systems theory, (4) redirect the focus from states to process, and (5) review epistemological premises of alternative research traditions. Following an overview of the essays, this introductory article discusses how the search for developmental structures, continuity, and process differs between mechanistic-contextualist and organismic-contextualist metatheoretical frameworks, and closes by highlighting continuities in Kagan’s scholarship over the past half century.