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
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    • 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: 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: 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: 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 01/2014;
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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: Two quasi-experiments examined mental organization of addition knowledge as a potential source of individual differences in understanding math equivalence in symbolic form. We hypothesized that children who mentally organize addition knowledge around conceptually related groupings would have better understanding of math equivalence. In Quasi-experiment 1, we assessed 101 second and third grade students’ mental organization of addition knowledge based on their use of decomposition strategies to solve addition problems (e.g., 3 + 4 = 3 + 3 + 1 = 6 + 1 = 7). In Quasi-experiment 2, we assessed 94 second grade students’ mental organization based on their ability to generate a set of equations equal to a target value. In both quasi-experiments, children whose mental organization better reflected conceptually related groupings exhibited better understanding of math equivalence. Results thus support the hypothesis that mental organization of addition knowledge into conceptually related groupings based on equivalent values may influence understanding of math equivalence in symbolic form.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 30:30–46.
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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.
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the relationship between phonological awareness (PA) and executive attention among Chinese-English bilingual children in the process of learning to read. Seventy-four bilingual children (mean age 67.5 months) completed phonological tasks assessing onset and rime awareness and the Attention Network Test (ANT), a nonverbal measure of executive attention (Rueda et al., 2004). Hierarchical analyses revealed bidirectional relations between PA and executive attention, with PA predicting executive attention and vice versa. The predictive relation of PA to executive attention was more pronounced for English onset and Chinese rime awareness. Evidence of cross-linguistic transfer of PA skills suggests concurrent contributions of bilinguals’ multiple PA skills to cognitive advantages in executive attention. Further analysis revealed that orienting attention was strongly related to both English and Chinese PA skills, whereas executive control attention was associated with English PA only. These results offer new insight into the phonological skills relevant to aspects of attentional control in bilingual children.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 30:65–80.
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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 01/2014; 30:47–64.
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    ABSTRACT: We conducted a training study to better understand how Chinese Mandarin-speaking preschoolers’ facility with sentential complement grammatical constructions affects performance on false belief tasks. Eighty-four Mandarin-speaking Chinese 3–4-year-olds who were initially unsuccessful on false belief tasks were randomly assigned to four training conditions. Two involved training on sentential complement structures, one involved training on understanding of false representations, and one was a control condition that involved no specific training. Participants who received training on sentential complements with communication verbs performed significantly better on false belief posttests than those in the control group. Children in the false representation training group did not show improvement in the sentential complement tests. The findings suggest facility with sentential complement grammatical structures can promote false belief reasoning. However, explicit false belief understanding can emerge even when children have little competence with sentential complement constructions.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 29:50–61.
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    ABSTRACT: Although children tend to categorize objects at the basic level, we hypothesized that generic sentences would direct children's attention to different levels of categorization. We tested children's and adults’ short-term recall (Study 1) and longer-term recall (Study 2) for labels presented in generic sentences (e.g., Kids like to play jimjam) versus specific sentences (e.g., This kid likes to play jimjam). Label content was either basic level (e.g., cat, boy) or superordinate (e.g., animal, kid). As predicted, participants showed better memory for label content in generic than specific sentences (short-term recall for children; both short and longer-term recall for adults). Errors typically involved recalling specific noun phrases as generic, and recalling superordinate labels as basic. These results demonstrate that language influences children's representations of new factual information, but that cognitive biases also lead to distortions in recall.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014;
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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 01/2014; 30:96–110.
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    ABSTRACT: This longitudinal study contributes to the growing literature on the predictive nature of the relation between executive function (EF) and theory of mind (ToM). A latent variable model was fit to the data acquired from 226 socioeconomically and racially diverse children (52% female) at 3, 4, and 5 years of age on a number of age-appropriate tasks designed to assess EF and ToM. After controlling for sex, income-to-needs, and receptive language ability, there was substantial stability within each construct as children aged. In addition, EF at 3 years predicted ToM at 4 years but ToM did not predict EF, replicating earlier results. This pattern also appeared from 4 to 5 years of age, suggesting that the developmental precedence of EF persists later in development. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of contemporary cognitive development theories, as well as the relation between EF and social reasoning in general.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the conceptions of the right to literacy of rural Zulu adolescents in post-apartheid South Africa. Its aim was to investigate the development of human rights in a traditional society during an era of historic change. Adolescents in three age groups (N = 72, mean ages 11-1, 15-9, and 18-9) endorsed the right to literacy in principle. In nine conflict assessments involving the preservation of culture, parental authority, and gender roles, participants supported the right to literacy (64–100%), but also maintained traditional values of respect and duties of elder care. Twenty-four percent proposed novel concepts integrating the right to literacy with indigenous practices such as family decision-making processes. These findings suggest that conceptions of rights and collectivistic values need not be antagonistic. It is argued that analyses of the ontogenesis, cultural practices, and historical settings of conceptions of human rights are integral to resolving questions of universality.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 29:81–94.
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    ABSTRACT: Children and adults differentiate statements of religious belief from statements of fact and opinion, but the basis of that differentiation remains unclear. Across three experiments, adults and 8–10-year-old children heard statements of factual, opinion-based, and religious belief. Adults and children judged that statements of factual belief revealed more about the world, statements of opinion revealed more about individuals, and statements of religious belief provided information about both. Children—unlike adults—judged that statements of religious belief revealed more about the world than the believer. These results led to three conclusions. First, judgments concerning the relative amount of information statements of religious belief provide about individuals change across development, perhaps because adults have more experience with diversity. Second, recognizing that statements of religious belief provide information about both the world and the believer does not require protracted learning. Third, statements of religious belief are interpreted as amalgams of factual and opinion-based statements.
    Cognitive Development 01/2014; 30:15–29.

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