Saturday, October 18, 2014

Peek a Boo

My granddaughter Danica, 10 months

Ashok brought us this topic and I immediately thought of my newest granddaughter and of the game of Peek a Boo.  That made me think of her development and started my research.

Piaget felt that Peek a Boo, and the fact that it delighted the child so much, was an indication that the child had no sense of object permanence yet, that when you covered your face, the infant felt that you were really gone!!!  But, science doesn't allow a theory to stand on the merit of its beauty of though alone and observation with clever experiments and better ability to observe have thrown this into question.

When a train is moved behind a screen after a small child can see a mouse is in the way of the train's progress, then the mouse is moved when the train and mouse are behind the screen and the train emerges on the other side with the mouse still in place after the screen is removed - uh, I couldn't think of a way to say that more awkwardly - the child should show no more interest than when the mouse is not there if they had no sense of object permanence.  Yet, as young as 3 1/2 months, they do show more excitement, indicating that they have some awareness of the objects impending collision behind the screen!  They must still be aware of the objects to show that excitement.  Or some such.

Does this change your world?  Perhaps not, but for me, I found it fascinating, just as I found it fascinating that a dog has much greater sense of object permanence than a cat and that a crow develops a sense of object permanence fairly much on the level of a human.

Now, who'd have ever thought that the word Peek a Boo would elicit such wonder??? 


  1. I would have and still do. The idea of object permanence itself undergoes change as the child grows up and begins to realise the nature of change of everything. I have not dwelt in depth as to whether animals too go through this process of learning about change and impermanence but the way they react to death seems to indicate that they do not really have a sense of permanence that we human beings seem to develop!

    Have I now confused you enough or as much as your mouse and train analogy tried to me?

    1. No, you were very clear (as opposed to my labored effort I simply let stand).

      Your take on animal's sense of object permanence is very interesting and worth a little contemplation.


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