Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Cordelia Robinson

Second Advisor

Richard Wikoff

Third Advisor

Steven Rosenberg


My purpose in this descriptive study was to view infants' readiness to learn and their performance on a simple discrete task from the perspective of Piaget's theory of infant intelligence. Such a readiness to learn has been described by Watson (1966, 1971, 1972) as contingency awareness. This study attempted to investigate the relationship between assessed Piagetian sensorimotor level and performance on a contingency awareness task. Performance measures included efficiency rate and latency to first hit on a second test session. Infant performance was viewed within the framework of sensorimotor development. From the literature there is evidence of a relationship between performance on contingency awareness tasks and what Piaget has termed causality, but no study has addressed the question across the stages of sensorimotor development as was attempted in this research. Most of the contingency awareness studies have looked at performance of children at one chronological age. For example, Ramey and Finkelstein (1978) found that infants as young as 4 ½ months were able to give a panel pressing response to control the presentation of colored lights. In addition to the question of performance in relationship to sensorimotor stages in this study, the question as to whether such responses can be obtained with even younger infants was also examined.

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