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
  • Post-print
    • Author can archive a post-print version
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    • Pre-print allowed on any website or open access repository
    • Voluntary deposit by author of authors post-print allowed on authors' personal website, or institutions open scholarly website including Institutional Repository, without embargo, where there is not a policy or mandate
    • Deposit due to Funding Body, Institutional and Governmental policy or mandate only allowed where separate agreement between repository and the publisher exists.
    • Permitted deposit due to Funding Body, Institutional and Governmental policy or mandate, may be required to comply with embargo periods of 12 months to 48 months .
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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 PubMed Central after 12 months
    • Publisher last contacted on 18/10/2013
  • 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: Real/not-real judgments can refer to authenticity or ontological status.•‘Is X real?’ could mean ‘Is X the real one?’ or ‘Does X live in the real world?’.•Preschoolers can distinguish authentic versions of fictional characters from fakes.•They do not judge that fictional characters do not live in the real world.•They may interpret ontological status questions as authenticity questions.
    Cognitive Development 12/2014; 32.
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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 10/2014; 32:1–11.
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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: 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: 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 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: People form illusory correlations (ICs) such that they will at times perceive a relationship between variables even when no such relationship exists. Three experiments with undergraduates (N = 20), 5-year-olds (N = 71), and 3-year-olds (N = 52) explored the origins of ICs: When, and under what conditions, does the disposition to form ICs emerge? Results showed that, like adults, 5-year-olds formed ICs for large samples of evidence (Experiment 1), but 5-year-olds did not do so for smaller samples (Experiment 2). Three- and 5-year-olds formed ICs for small samples when the evidence was presented in a way that promoted an attention shift from one category to the other during category learning (Experiment 3). These results suggest ICs are due, in large part, to limitations in processing capacity and biases in attentional learning mechanisms. The results provide insights regarding the conditions that influence children's ability to detect and use regularities in the available input and thus have implications for understanding their performance on a broad range of cognitive tasks.
    Cognitive Development 07/2014; 31:22–34.
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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 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: This 3-year longitudinal study examines developmental changes in children's ability to differentiate essential from nonessential counting features. Kindergarteners watched a computer-presented detection task which included three kinds of counts: correct conventional, erroneous and pseudoerrors (with and without statements of cardinal values for the sets). Children had to judge the correctness of those counts and justify their responses. Our data showed that children's explanations provided additional information and thus increased reliability of the assessment. Children were better at detecting erroneous counts than pseudoerrors and at detecting pseudoerrors with cardinal value than pseudoerrors without it. Group analysis showed that children's performance improved with age but analysis of individual differences qualified this result by identifying individual differences in developmental patterns. This study thus provides a more detailed picture of the developmental trajectories of children's comprehension of essential and nonessential counting aspects.
    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: 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 07/2014;
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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 07/2014; 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 07/2014;
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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 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.