Gestion socio‐cognitive du recours à l'aide d'autrui chez l'enfant

F. Winnykamen
Published Online:
27 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 28 Issue 5

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This article presents an analysis of metacognitive activities which enable the child to self‐regulate aspects of the decision to have recourse to instrumental help from others to solve a problem. It describes two experiments designed to investigate the arguments used to obtain the help of a person chosen to be a potential helper. In the first experiment, 30 boys and 30 girls (mean age 9;0) took part individually in a “role play” in which they had to convince a potential helper of their choice to give them the help they need to solve a cognitive, relational or material problem. The role of the helper was played by the experimenter. The helper puts forward six objections: (1) lack of motivation; (2) lack of availability; (3) insufficient skill; (4) retortion of lack of help from the partner in the past; (5) request for the subject to be more autonomous; (6) challenge to the relevancy of the choice of helper. The arguments formulated by the subjects were recorded and then coded into the following categories: (1) self‐centred; (2) other‐centred; (3) centred on the helper/requester relationship; (4) external centration; (5) emphasis on the request; (6) acceptance of the refusal of the helper. In the second experiment, 19 boys and 19 girls (mean age 6;8) had to convince a potential helper to help them solve a cognitive problem. The experimental paradigm was identical to the one in Experiment 1. The findings for the three types of problems and for both ages exhibit the same type of patterns. However, the younger children produced fewer arguments. Direct negation of the objection, absent at age nine, was relatively frequent at age six. Acceptance of the refusal of the helper was more frequent at age six than at age nine, in particular when the chosen helper was an adult. The findings are discussed in terms of adjustment of the children's arguments to helpers' objections.' A differential analysis as a function of types of chosen helpers is put forward.

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