Performance in number conservation tasks as a function of the number of items


Department of Psychology, University of Lancaster, Fylde College, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4YF


It has traditionally been considered that successful performance in a test of number conservation entails the appreciation of a principle that holds for all numbers. In the first of two experiments 5 year old children were found to give more conserving responses to small number versions in a test of identity conservation than to a large number version. In the second experiment the superiority of performance with small number versions was reduced but not eliminated when the opportunity to requantify the array after the transformation was removed. The results are consistent with two recent accounts of number development which postulate the prior attainment of number conservation with small numbers.