This article presents a critical overview of the studies on the development of temporal learning in children aged 1 to 7 years by the present author and her collaborators. To “question” subjects as young as this, a non-verbal method was used, adapted from temporal operant conditioning procedures. The first set of studies shows that up to the age of 4 1/2 learning to regulate one’s actions in time takes place through shaping by reinforcement contingencies. It is not before the age of 7 that learning is controlled by rules, which themselves are based on both the knowledge of what a time interval is, with initial and final boundaries, and a mastery of chronometric units. The group’s more recent studies on children aged 4 to 7 show that they can use both this knowledge and chronometric counting in “enhancing” contexts (with appropriate instructions and duration indicators). This suggests that there is no discontinuity between the conditioned temporal regulations acquired by the younger children and the rule-based regulations acquired by older children. Lastly, it is argued that to further increase our knowledge of how later temporal abilities relate to earlier ones, there is the dual necessity to both confront data obtained in recent studies with various methodological and theoretical approaches, and to study the maturation of internal timing mechanisms.
How to Cite:
Pouthas, V., 1993. Ontogenesis of Temporal Learning in the Child Experimental Evidence and Perspectives. Psychologica Belgica, 33(2), pp.171–183. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb.846