Cognitive Development (COGNITIVE DEV )

Publisher: Jean Piaget Society, Elsevier


Cognitive Development contains the very best empirical and theoretical work on the development of perception, memory, language, concepts, thinking, problem solving, metacognition, and social cognition. Criteria for acceptance of articles will be: significance of the work to issues of current interest, substance of the argument, and clarity of expression. For purposes of publication in Cognitive Development, moral and social development will be considered part of cognitive development when they are related to the development of knowledge or thought processes. The Publisher and new Editor are resolute in their determination to maintain and enhance the reputation of Cognitive Development as a leading journal in the field, publishing papers of high quality in an expeditious manner (and in due course embracing the new electronic technologies). They remain committed to serving the best interest of the community of researchers, readers, and subscribers who have helped make the journal the success it is, and to increasing the value of Cognitive Development to those who work in the field in the future.

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  • Website
    Cognitive Development website
  • Other titles
    Cognitive development
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  • Material type
    Periodical, Internet resource
  • Document type
    Journal / Magazine / Newspaper, Internet Resource

Publisher details


  • Pre-print
    • Author can archive a pre-print version
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    • Author can archive a post-print version
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    • Voluntary deposit by author of pre-print allowed on Institutions open scholarly website and pre-print servers
    • Voluntary deposit by author of authors post-print allowed on institutions open scholarly website including Institutional Repository
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    • Publisher's version/PDF cannot be used
    • Articles in some journals can be made Open Access on payment of additional charge
    • NIH Authors articles will be submitted to PMC after 12 months
    • Authors who are required to deposit in subject repositories may also use Sponsorship Option
    • Pre-print can not be deposited for The Lancet
  • Classification
    ​ green

Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Virtual characters are programmed to simulate relationship partners, yet little is known about how children conceptualize the social affordances of these characters, despite their growing presence in children’s lives. In two studies (combined N = 49), we investigated the extent to which preschool children differentiated the social affordances of a virtual character that simulates social behaviors and a stuffed animal like the kinds children often use in pretend play. Children played a game in which they guessed whether a child in a video was referring to a stuffed dog or a virtual dog in a series of statements. The stuffed dog tended to be associated with items rated by adults as relevant to friendship, whereas the virtual dog tended to be associated with items rated as relevant to entertainment. These results suggest that despite their sophisticated programming, virtual characters might not be superior to simple stuffed animals as relationship partners.
    Cognitive Development 12/2014; in press.
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    ABSTRACT: A common type of transgression in early childhood involves creating inconvenience, for instance by spilling, playing with breakable objects, or otherwise interfering with others’ activities. Despite the prevalence of such pragmatic transgressions, little is known about children's conceptions of norms prohibiting these acts. The present study examined whether 3–5-year-olds (N = 58) see pragmatic norms as distinct from first-order moral (welfare and rights of others), prudential (welfare of agent), and social conventional norms. Children judged all four types of transgressions to be wrong. Justifications for pragmatic transgressions focused on inconvenience to the transgressor, inconvenience to others, or material disorder. Children rated pragmatic and conventional transgressions as less serious than moral and prudential transgressions. Latent Class Analysis provided further support for the conclusion that preschoolers see pragmatic norms as a category distinct from first-order moral, prudential, and social conventional norms.
    Cognitive Development 10/2014; 32:12–22.
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    ABSTRACT: We examined five-year-olds’ ability to co-represent a partner's role during a shared activity. In adults, one indicator of such co-representation is the joint Simon effect, a spatial compatibility effect that is present when a two-choice reaction time task (a Simon task) is divided between two participants but is not present when an individual carries performs the task in isolation. We provide evidence for a joint Simon effect in five-year-old children, although its magnitude was unaffected by the priming of interdependence or independence in a preceding activity. Appearance of the joint Simon effect in young children suggests that when carrying out a joint task, young children can form integrated task representations involving both their own role and their partner's role, thus serving as a potential cognitive mechanism that may facilitate the emergence of early joint action abilities.
    Cognitive Development 10/2014; 32:38–45.
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines two accounts of why causal information facilitates early learning, one focusing on its attracting attention at the time of encoding and the other on its enhancing memory through coherent elaboration. Three-year-olds were taught novel words along with either causally-rich or causally-weak descriptions of their referents until each child reached a specific learning criterion. Children reached this criterion in fewer trials in the causally-rich than in the causally-weak condition. However, when children's memory for the newly learned words was subsequently tested after a lengthy delay, no differences in performance were detected. Causal information therefore appears to support early word learning primarily by enhancing the efficiency of initial encoding, rather than by enhancing the longevity of lexical-semantic representations. These results provide greater support for the attention-based than the coherent elaboration-account and further suggest that encoding may be a principal limiting factor in children's word learning.
    Cognitive Development 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Ownership is a central element of human experience. The present experiments were designed to examine the influence of psychological state on ownership judgments. In three experiments, 4-year-olds were asked to make ownership attributions about owners and non-owners who either desired or did not desire a gift. Despite exhibiting a clear sensitivity to the desires of others, children made accurate ownership attributions independent of individuals’ desires. At the same time, there are subtle influences of desires on children's ownership judgments, as well as subtle influences of ownership on children's desire judgments. Thus, the two factors are largely but not wholly distinct in young children's thinking.
    Cognitive Development 07/2014; 31:59–68.
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    ABSTRACT: Prospection is the mental simulation of future events and may promote positive, future-oriented action in the present. Despite evidence of a relation between prospection and episodic memory, there is a paucity of research comparing the developmental trajectories of each during middle childhood, a time of substantial episodic memory development. This study examined prospection and episodic memory in 5-, 7-, and 9-year-old children and adults (N = 80). Participants provided narratives and introspective judgments about their experience of mentalizing past and future events. The development of prospection was more protracted than that of episodic memory, although individual differences in past event episodicity predicted prospection. Although both prospection and episodic memory were characterized by a rich subjective experience, future events were rated as more difficult to envision and were more frequently viewed in the third-person perspective. Although both prospection and episodic memory appear to improve during middle childhood, results suggest that prospection may require additional skills.
    Cognitive Development 04/2014; 30:96–110.
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    ABSTRACT: Young children frequently do not transfer information from video to real-world situations. We provided perceptual and conceptual supports to help children transfer a new word from video to physical objects and photos. An on-screen actress labeled one of two novel objects; then 24-month-olds were asked to identify the ‘modi.’ Children failed to demonstrate word learning after holding the objects while viewing (comparison condition). In a two-step transfer condition, children correctly identified the modi on a test video image but did not identify the real matching object. However, when parents pointed out that the real objects were “the same” as those on screen (scaffold condition), children demonstrated reliable transfer of the word from video to reality. This study shows that parents’ active co-viewing of videos supports transfer and suggests that toddlers’ frequent failure to learn from video stems at least partially from their lack of understanding of the relevance of video to real life.
    Cognitive Development 04/2014; 30:47–64.
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    ABSTRACT: Reasoning with a peer to make a joint decision involves making a proposal (e.g., “Polar bears go here”) and justifying it with relevant facts (e.g., “This is ice”) based on common ground assumptions or warrants (e.g., polar bears need ice). Twenty-four dyads of 3- and 5-year-olds built a zoo with toy items that were either conventional (e.g., animals, cages) or unconventional (e.g., piano). For conventional items, both participants in both age groups used justifications that relied on implicit warrants (e.g., stating only the fact “This is ice”, assuming that both partners know that polar bears need ice). For unconventional items, they more often articulated the warrant explicitly, arguably to create the necessary common ground. Five-year-olds made warrants explicit more often, produced more justifications, and reached mutual agreement more often than did 3-year-olds. These results suggest that preschoolers can reason with one another appropriately, specifically in justifying their proposals based on appropriate common ground assumptions.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 32:74–85.
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    ABSTRACT: Young children often use simple rules of thumb to infer ownership of objects, but do they also understand ownership rights? We investigated whether 2- and 3-year-olds would react to violations of ownership rights in the context of newly made objects. In Experiment 1, children protested and made spontaneous reference to ownership when a puppet took away the child's object, but protested little when a third party's objects were at stake. Yet, 3-year-olds attributed ownership to the third party when asked ownership questions. Children's ownership claims were due to the effort invested in making new things, as they rarely used ownership protest after having handled raw materials (Experiment 2). Two- and 3-year-olds thus showed an appreciation of ownership rights for their own newly made objects. While 3-year-olds understood third party ownership, they may have lacked the motivation to intervene in ownership rights violations involving a third party.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 29:30–40.
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    ABSTRACT: Two studies investigated the weights of physical similarity, labels, and internal properties in 5-year-olds’ (n = 64) categorization and inferences regarding three social categories: gender, race, and shirt-color. Participants saw exemplars of varying degrees of similarity to target categories and were asked to categorize the exemplars and draw inferences about them. Varied across studies was the kind of information pitted against visual similarity – labels (Study 1) or internal information (Study 2). Labels had the weakest effect on children's categorization of the most essentialized category – gender. (Essentialism was assessed independently.) Internal property information dominated physical similarity in determining children's categorization of all three categories. We conclude that essentialized social categories are defined as natural kinds, wherein appearances are indicative of intrinsic essences, and thus information about intrinsic properties – but not labels – can lead children to overlook physical dissimilarity.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: This experiment was designed to clarify the referential status of infants’ newly learned words. We introduced 15- and 17-month-olds to a novel noun, presented in conjunction with pictures of two whisks that differed in color (one purple, one orange). We asked whether infants would extend this newly learned noun to other members of the same kind (other whisks), one differing only in color (a picture of a silver whisk) and another differing in both color and representational medium (a real three-dimensional silver whisk). Fifteen- and 17-month-olds’ interpretation of the novel noun was not tethered tightly to the perceptual features with which the word had previously been paired. Instead, their interpretation was sufficiently abstract to include a new member of the same object category, although it differed in color and representational medium (a real silver whisk). Thus, by 15 months, infants appreciate the referential status of words and extend their meaning flexibly from pictures to objects.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 32:1–11.
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the extent to which infants encode the context of a goal-directed action, nine-month-old infants were tested in three separate experiments using a visual habituation paradigm similar to that used by Woodward (1998). Experiment 1, necessary to support methodology used in subsequent experiments, demonstrated that infants can track the goals of others in a visual habituation paradigm even when a goal object changes position. Experiment 2 examined the capacity of infants to make context-dependant judgments regarding an actor's two goal-directed actions (i.e., that object A would be grasped when paired with B, and B would be grasped when paired with C). Experiment 3 examined whether infants encode these contextually contingent goals in a linear order (e.g., A > B > C). Infants are able to use contextual information to correctly encode the actions of others, yet no evidence was found for encoding this information in a linear order.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 31:69–78.
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    ABSTRACT: Attentional resolution (He & Cavanagh, 1996) is defined as the smallest region in space that can be selected by visual attention. We investigated the development of attentional resolution of 7-, 9-, 11- and 13-year-olds and adults. We used a tracking paradigm with one target and varied the distance between target and distractors. Our results demonstrate that the resolution of attention develops markedly between childhood and adulthood. The developmental trajectory is characterized by a strong increase in attentional resolution between 7 and 9 years of age and a plateau at still immature performance between 11 and 13 years. The observed development of attentional resolution may be caused by the maturation of the neural networks responsible for the top-down deployment of visuo-spatial attention. Implications for reading acquisition are discussed.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 29:62–80.
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    ABSTRACT: Several theoretical formulations suggest a relation between children's pretense and executive function (EF) skills. However, there is little empirical evidence for a correlation between these constructs in early development. Preschool children (N = 104; M age = 4–0) were given batteries of EF and pretense representation measures, as well as verbal, memory, and appearance-reality control tasks. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed two separable but overlapping aspects of EF (Conflict and Delay). EF was significantly related to pretense after accounting for all controls. Understanding the pretend–reality distinction was strongly related to Conflict EF, whereas performing pretend actions was more strongly related to Delay EF. These results, although correlational, are consistent with the claim that EF skills are implicated in pretense, such as inhibiting reality and flexibly manipulating dual representations, and offer a potential mechanism by which pretend play interventions may enhance childhood EF.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 29:1–16.