Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Janet M. Kulberg


Discrepancies in the age of emergence of transitivity have been found by various investigators. Piagetians argue that transitivity emerges at approximately age seven to eight years while other researchers claim that children as young as four to five years have transitivity skills. It can be argued that these differing conclusions about the age of emergence of transitivity are possibly due to differences in methodological variables. The major objectives of the present investigation were to determine whether differences in the age of emergence of transitivity are due to methodological differences in: 1) type of training (active training vs. passive training) b) order of presentation of training pairs during training (random vs. ordered), and/or c) type of response criterion demanded (judgment vs. explanation).

Subjects age 4-5 to 5-0, 6-0 to 6-7, and 7-6 to 8-0 were administered one of four premise pair training tasks: passive ordered pair, passive random block, active ordered pair, or active random block. Subsequent to the training phase subjects were tested on inference pairs using one of two types of response criteria: judgment only or judgment plus explanation.

Significant age and type of training effects were found for both the judgment and explanation criteria on inference pair errors. No significant order of training pairs effect was found for either criterion. These results lend partial support to the major hypotheses. It can thus be concluded that methodological differences among studies on transitivity may often affect the age at which this skill emerges. Theoretical and research implications are discussed.



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