Development of reasoning through arguing in young children



The aim of this paper is to analyze how young children reason during argumentative conversations in different educational settings. According to the Vygotskian and socio-cultural perspective, we assume that the child’s thought is developed through discourse, especially during learning processes involving peer interactions and adult-guided discussions. In this paper, we present and qualitatively analyze some of our empirical data collected in order to show the relevance of narrative processes during argumentative activities involving young children in educational contexts. Firstly, we refer to counter-factual reasoning as the argumentative strategy used by preschool children in disputes about narrative. We show some specific spatial-temporal features, mainly linked to a need of generalization and logical bases (i.e. authority of sources, rituality of situations, and plausibility of consequences). Secondly, we analyze how during family conversations children use practical reasoning that derive from parental discourses about norms and directives. Finally, we present a case in which reasoning through arguing is applied in school to teach history to primary school children. Implications of reasoning among children in different educational settings are discussed in order to highlight the relevance of argumentation in school and family activities.

General Information

Keywords: Vygotskian perspective; socio-cultural perspective; reasoning; argumentation; preschoolers’ narratives; family conversations

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Pontecorvo C., Arcidiacono F. Development of reasoning through arguing in young children. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2010. Vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 19–29. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Clotilde Pontecorvo, PhD, Professor Emeritus in Psychology of Education, Head of the Faculty of Social and Developmental Psychology, Rome University “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, e-mail:

Francesco Arcidiacono, PhD, Professor at the Institute of Psychology and Education, University of Neuchatel, Neuchatel, Switzerland



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