Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The purpose of this study was to gather information regarding children's developing sense of self. Seventy children, ages three to seven years, were tested on three measures. In the first task, the children tried on a mask and answered questions about their identity while looking in a mirror. The second involved a group of conservation tasks where external objects, the child's body, or part thereof, were the objects in question. The third was a picture task where pictures of a person, a person wearing a mask, and an animal were compared and the children were asked to decide which two of the pictures were most alike. The results indicated that the three measures were not correlated with one another. The mask task seemed to separate the three and four year olds from the older children. The conservation tasks involving the child's entire body separated the 3, 4, and 5 year old children from the 6 and 7 year olds. The picture task also separated the 3, 4, and 5 year olds from the older children, and the more standard conservation tasks separated the seven year olds from the younger children. The results are discussed in terms of a theory of development of self identity. Based on a Piagetian framework, a hypothesis for a more global view of children's play is also presented.