OBJECT PERMANENCE

Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they are not perceived. This milestone of cognitive development is most commonly associated with Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, which proposes that infants initially lack an understanding of object permanence and gradually develop this understanding throughout early childhood (Piaget, 1954).

Object permanence is closely related to infants’ memory and problem-solving skills. It has been suggested that infants as young as 3 months old are capable of forming memories of objects and events (Fagen, 2001). As infants’ memories and problem-solving abilities develop, they become better able to remember the location of hidden objects and anticipate the reappearance of objects that are out of sight (Baillargeon, 1996).

Research suggests that the development of object permanence is a gradual process that occurs over the first two years of life. Studies have shown that infants as young as 6 months old are able to anticipate the reappearance of objects that have gone out of sight (Simcock & Hayne, 2000). By 12 months old, infants are able to remember the location of hidden objects and search for them in the appropriate location (Baillargeon, 1996). By 24 months old, children are able to understand the permanence of objects even when they are no longer visible (Piaget, 1954).

Object permanence is a critical milestone in early childhood development. It is closely related to infants’ memory and problem-solving abilities and is thought to be a precursor to more abstract forms of thinking. Understanding object permanence is an important step in the development of cognitive skills and should be monitored closely by parents and caregivers.

References

Baillargeon, R. (1996). Representing the existence and the location of hidden objects: Evidence from 4.5-month-old infants. Cognitive Psychology, 31(2), 188-224.

Fagen, J. (2001). Infant memory: The developmental and cognitive bases. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 83-111.

Piaget, J. (1954). The Construction of Reality in the Child. Basic Books.

Simcock, G., & Hayne, H. (2000). Object permanence in the 7-month-old infant: How specific is the deficit associated with Down Syndrome? Child Development, 71(5), 1296-1309.

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