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Conceptual Changes in Perceptions of Health and Illness in Primary School
Age Children 1191
educational psychologist, secondary general school №187 (Nizhniy Novgorod)
Doctor of Psychology, Professor at the Psychology Chair, The «Dubna» University, Dubna, Russia
The paper presents results of a longitudinal study on the development of health and illness perceptions in primary school age children (N = 14). As it was substantiated by Vygotsky, school education affects the development of child's spontaneous concepts. The authors thus regard 'health' and 'illness' as everyday concepts that children lack the opportunity to study at school. Accordingly the hypothesis was that the children's statements concerning their perceptions of health and illness become more rich and complex over the course of the first three years of study at school. The data was obtained through the clinical interviews, and each child's responses and arguments on health and illness issues were separately analysed, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The changes in the children's concepts of 'health' and 'illness' proved to be very different in their structure as well as in their content. For instance, in children of the first year of school thoughts on illnesses and illness were more elaborated than those of health, whereas in children of the third year such differences no longer existed. For primary school age children 'health' as a category may be more abstract and less elaborated than 'illness'. The outcomes of the study are finally discussed within the context of the past and contemporary research on conceptual development.
Keywords: children's perceptions, illness, health, primary schoolage children, conceptual development, longitudinal study
Column: Empirical Research
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