Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Understanding the distinction between sensation...
View graph of relations

Understanding the distinction between sensations and physical properties of objects by children and adults.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1997
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number2
Number of pages27
Pages (from-to)321-347
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The study addressed the phenomenon according to which even educated adult individuals often confuse sensations received from physical objects (such as colour, sound, taste, weight, temperature) with physical properties of the objects that initiated these sensations. This means that in many cases scientific education fails to achieve its goal, which is to create in an individual the physical-scientific view of the world. To examine this phenomenon four experiments were conducted with the aims to determine to what extent: (1) children of various ages and adults were able (a) to acknowledge the fact that sensations appear due to the work of the human mind or sense organs and are not physical properties of the objects that produce them; (b) to appreciate the difference between the mind and sense organs as contributors to the production of sensations (Exp. 1); (2) various types of training could enhance children’s and adults’ understanding that sensations do not belong to the physical properties and objects (Exps. 2-4). The results of Experiment 1 conducted with 6- and 9-year-old children and adults did not reveal an age-related increase in the appreciation of the subjective character of sensations. However, 9-year-old children and adults (but not 6-year-old children) showed a diffentiated approach to various types of sensations, attributing pain mainly to the subject and softness-hardness mainly to the objects. Experiment 2 (direct explanation treatment), and Experiment 3 (cognitive conflict treatment) yielded no improvement in 6- and 9-year-old children’s appreciation of the subjective character of sensations and only partial improvement in adults. In Experiment 4 (social conflict treatment) adult subjects only were involved; the experiment showed a significant improvement in the subjects’ judgements about colour sensations and a marginal improvement in their judgements about weight sensations.