Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Gerald R. Pascal

Committee Members

William O. Jenkins, Carl N. Sipprelle, Merritt H. Moore, William E. Cole


Introduction: In psychology the investigation of the formation of concepts has long been a part of the study of what has been called the thought processes. There are, however, very few studies of early concepts formation in humans, especially in children before and during the development of speech patterns. Most of the studies which have dealt with the investigation of concept formation have depended largely for their data on speech processes. It can, however, be shown that concept formation exists before speech behavior, and that its development seems to be somewhat parallel to the development of speech in the child. The literature on this problem indicates a considerable hiatus in this area of investigation of concept formation in the very earliest years of the human organism.

In the present research the approach chosen was that of the investigation of the problem of the earliest appearance of a fairly limited form of concept formation behavior in the human organism, and of tracing its development as the organism matures, thus making some sort of a beginning in showing how the internal processes which we infer from the overt and observable behavior of the organism follow their maturational patterns.

To clarify a term, the present study is concerned with a group of behaviors, observable and quantifiable, from which "concept formation" as some sort of internal, possibly central, symbolic process can be inferred. Such behavior will be called here "concept formation behavior" or "concept behavior." An answer to the question of what the internal processes might be, will not be attempted here.

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