Number conservation in two west African societies

Jill K. Posner, Arthur J. Baroody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of cultural and educational variables on the development of number conservation were examined among African children from two cultural milieux (agricultural and merchant). A task which evaluated counting skill was also administered to determine if a relationship exists between counting facility and conservation. Schooled Baoule (agricultural) children performed better than unschooled children on conservation. However, a matched group of unschooled Dioula (merchant) subjects performed as well as their schooled peers. No differences were found between school children from either group. Counting ability appeared to be associated with conservation performance. Results are consonant with the “functional learning systems” approach to cognitive processing. Acquisition of a mature number concept is dependent on particular activities-those which school and a merchant culture provide-albeit differently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-496
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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