Samuel and Bryant
In one of his conservation tests Piaget demonstrated that if you show a child two beakers of water, one of which is tall and thin, the other short and fat, and ask the child which beaker contains the most water, most children under the age of 7 will say 'the tall one', even though they both contain the same amount of water. Piaget argued that this is because the child has not developed the ability to conserve volume.
Conservation of volume is the ability to realise that something may have the same volume, even though it is a different shape.
The aim of Samuel and Bryant’s study was to challenge Piaget's findings by altering the method used by Piaget. The participants were 252 boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 8.5. They children were divided into four age groups of 63 children, whose mean ages were;
5 years 3 months
6 years 3 months
7 years 3 months
8 years 3 months
Each group was divided into 3 subgroups which underwent a different condition.
The three conditions were:
1 Standard: This is the traditional two question conservation task as carried out by Piaget. The child is asked about the size of the object before and after the shape was changed.
2 One judgement: This is a conservation task like the original but this time with only one question asked, the post transformation question. That is, the child is only asked once about the size of the object and this is after the transformation has taken place.
3 Fixed array control: In this condition the child saw no transformation being made…