Cognitive Development: Three Mountains Experiment

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The Three Mountains Experiment

Piaget created this experiment to test EGOCENTRISM. It tests whether the child is able to see from someone else’s point of view. There are three papier mache mountains that were placed on a table. Each mountain had a different object on it which was a hut and cross and snow. The child was able to walk around and look from all the different angles of the mountains. They sat down and a doll was placed opposite to them on the other side of the mountains. The child was then asked to choose from ten picture cards which one showed the doll’s perspective. Most children under seven chose the one that they could see whereas older children could understand that they were looking in a different way. This showed that children under seven could only see the mountains from their point of view which is an example of egocentric thinking.

On the other hand, there is some evidence to contradict Piaget’s theory. HUGHES (1985) repeated the experiment using a situation that he thought would be more familiar to the child. The experimenter used the example of a naughty boy running away from a policeman. They found that 90% of children aged 3-5 years could complete the task successfully. This suggested that it was not the egocentrism that the child failed on, but the whole understanding of the task and relating it to


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