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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Kenneth Beauchamp

First Committee Member

Pam Fitzgerald

Second Committee Member

Gary Howells


This study was a replication and extension of the study done by Springer and Belk (1994) in which the proximity of a contaminant (bug) to juice was manipulated and children were asked whether someone would get sick from drinking the juice. The experimenter read the child three stories about a young boy who drinks a glass of orange juice. In their study, some preschoolers, and most 7 and 8 year olds recognized the need for physical contact between the bug and the juice to make the juice harmful. The purpose was to examine the development of children's theories, about contamination. The present study included 20 3-year-olds, 20 4-year-olds and 20 5-year-olds who were given each of Springer and Belk's three stories. Half of each age group received 10 prior training experiences in answering questions with correct “No” and “Yes” responses. The results showed further evidence of the developmental progression with 3 year olds showing little understanding of the concept that physical contact is necessary for contamination, however 50% of the 4 year olds and 75% of the 5 year olds demonstrated an understanding. The anti-yes-bias training had little impact on the performance of the 3 year olds and the 5 year olds, however the trained 4 year olds performed much better than the untrained 4 year olds. The reasons children gave in response to the questioning about their yes or no answers suggested an effect of training on 4 year olds, and not on 3 and 5 year olds.




9780493257273 , 0493257276

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