Child Development 138 (03) - Hembree
Social and Emotional Development
California State University, Sacramento
Spring, 2011 


Observation #1



Assignment Objectives:

  • to introduce students to self-recognition and self-concept constructs
  • to introduce students to measurement issues associated with research conducted with very young children
  • to expose students to concepts associated with inferential statistics by providing the opportunity to conduct such tests on class data

Study Objective:

  • To examine age differences in Self recognition behavior among infants and toddlers


Observation Task:

For this assignment, you will conduct a “rouge test” (Lewis & Brooks-Gunn, 1979) with two infants/toddlers between the ages of 10 and 24 months. One child should be younger than 16 months and one child should be 18 months or older. The test is designed to reveal children’s recognition of self. As a class, we will compile our data to test for age differences in this ability.

NOTE: Before conducting this observation, you will need to read pp.164-167 of your text and supplementary reading #1.

Materials needed:

  • Bright red rouge or other washable substance    

  • large mirror (large enough for the child to see him/herself while seated or standing on floor)        

  • Appendix A Code Sheet to record responses



To conduct your observation, you will need to choose a child who is alert and not fussy.  Have the caregiver apply a dot of rouge to the child’s nose surreptitiously (while pretending to wipe his/her nose) and place the child in front of the mirror (ensure that the child can view his/her face in the mirror and that the mirror is within arms’ reach). Watch and record the child’s behavior, specifically:

-         Does the child touch his/her reflection?

-         Does the child touch his/her own nose?

-         Identify the child’s emotional expression (e.g., joy, embarrassment), if any

Record your observations on the attached code sheet (Appendix A). Bring the completed appendix to class with you to the lab session on March 14th for class discussion. During the lab session we will compile our data and conduct statistical tests to see whether there is a significant age difference in this milestone behavior. The written report/reflection for this observation is due on Monday, April 11th.


Observation #1 - Report/Reflection:

Please address the following questions (word process, please!) in your report. You may discuss your observations and interviews with your partner (or anyone else), but the reflection itself should be written independently.

1) Using your text and supplementary reading, define self-recognition and discuss its importance in developing self-concept. Next, summarize briefly Lewis and Brooks-Gunn’s study on self-recognition.

2) What did we hypothesize in our study with respect to age differences? 

3) Describe the individual children you observed (e.g., age, sex) and the class sample as a wholeBriefly summarize the procedures employed in this study.

4) What did you find in your individual observations? Were your observations consistent with what we expected to observe? Attach (and refer to) your appendix.

5) What were the results of the class sample (see announcements page for compiled results)? What statistical test was employed and what were the results of the test? Be sure to attach the table we compiled during the lab session, and describe what the table shows

6) Explain the results. Are they consistent with what we hypothesized? Are they consistent with the Lewis and Brooks-Gunn reading? Why or why not? 

7) Discuss the efficacy of the procedure you used. Was it a valid assessment of self-recognition?  Why or why not? What does success on the “rouge test” mean (e.g., does this ability mean that a toddler has a self-concept, or is it more limited than that)?  Does failure on the task mean that the child DOES NOT recognize self?

8) Of what significance is the ability to recognize self to children's social development?  What might future researchers do to investigate this topic?

Written Report DUE: April 11th


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Send problems, comments or suggestions to:

California State University, Sacramento
College of Education
Department of Child Development

Updated: January, 2011

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