[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Advocates of the "continuity hypothesis" have argued that innate non-verbal counting principles guide the acquisition of the verbal count list (Gelman & Galistel, 1978). Some studies have supported this hypothesis, but others have suggested that the counting principles must be constructed anew by each child. Defenders of the continuity hypothesis have argued that the studies that failed to support it obscured children's understanding of counting by making excessive demands on their fragile counting skills. We evaluated this claim by testing two-, three-, and four-year-olds both on "easy" tasks that have supported continuity and "hard" tasks that have argued against it. A few noteworthy exceptions notwithstanding, children who failed to show that they understood counting on the hard tasks also failed on the easy tasks. Therefore, our results are consistent with a growing body of evidence that shows that the count list as a representation of the positive integers transcends pre-verbal representations of number.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two experiments assessed ordinal numerical knowledge in 2- and 3-year-old children and investigated the relationship between ordinal and verbal numerical knowledge. Children were trained on a 1 vs 2 comparison and then tested with novel numerosities. Stimuli consisted of two trays, each containing a different number of boxes. In Experiment 1, box size was held constant. In Experiment 2, box size was varied such that cumulative surface area was unrelated to number. Results show children as young as 2 years of age make purely numerical discriminations and represent ordinal relations between numerosities as large as 6. Children who lacked any verbal numerical knowledge could not make ordinal judgments. However, once children possessed minimal verbal numerical competence, further knowledge was entirely unrelated to ordinal competence. Number may become a salient dimension as children begin to learn to count. An analog magnitude representation of number may underlie success on the ordinal task.