February 6, 1998

(Photograph) - Child-proof: pets help put Piaget to the test. Children aged two to five from Swansea University's creche and local primary schools are helping final-year psychology student Charlotte Oates understand children's cognitive development. According to Ms Oates, younger children believe teddy bears can move on their own. Piaget's theories of cognitive development explain how children go through stages to become aware of differences between animate and inanimate objects.

Ms Oates uses animal masks and photographs of domestic pets and teddy bears to explore the "concrete preoperate" stage of children's development. About half of the 40 children who have been helping with the study have pets at home.

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