Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Hughes Policeman Doll Study

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Hughes Policeman Doll Study

Have you ever wondered why children sometimes have difficulty accepting that the world around them is composed of people just like them with individual viewpoints, thoughts and feelings? Piaget aimed to find an answer to this in his three mountains study. However, Hughes, another psychologist, argued that the three mountains study was too confusing for young children and wished to devise a simpler study based on the same premise - egocentric thinking in children. Let's take a look at Hughes' 'policeman doll' study and what it tells us about egocentrism in children.

  • We will kickstart your learning of the Hughes' 'policeman doll' study by learning about the Hughes policeman doll study aim.
  • Then move on swiftly to learn about the procedure used by Hughes, we will also cover Piaget's three mountains task to give you a quick refresher.
  • Next, moving along to discuss the Policeman doll study results.
  • To finish off we will learn about the Hughes policeman doll study strengths & weaknesses.

Hughes' 'policeman doll' study, Children drawing illustrations of the world, StudySmarterA young child accepting their view of the world and not understanding that others view the world differently; this is what Piaget and Hughes call egocentrism, freepik.com/pch.vector

Policeman doll study Experiment

Children and adults clearly have different levels of intelligence. Therefore, it is common sense that psychology research investigating children should tailor tests used towards them. This is what Hughes attempted to do in his policeman doll study in 1975. The psychology concept investigated in Hughes' policeman doll' study is egocentrism in children.

Egocentrism is the concept that refers to the inability to understand others' perspectives or the belief that everyone has the same view of something as your own.

Developmental psychologists have established that young children have lower levels of egocentrism.

A child may see their parent crying, and so they may pass them some food. The child does this because they think their parent is crying because they are hungry, not because they are unhappy.

Hughes policeman doll study aim

Hughes aimed to analyse egocentric thinking in children. Hughes took several steps to ensure that the task was as simple as possible for children to understand and participate in. Both Hughes and Piaget's investigated essentially the same thing, except that Hughes tailored the procedure to children. The Hughes policeman doll study aimed to identify children's level of egocentrism. Furthermore, if the results found in the study were consistent with Piaget's.

  • In Piaget's three mountains task study, children were shown three mountains: one with snow, one with a hut and the third with a Red Cross on it.
  • The children were able to move during the study to see the different viewpoints of the mountain.
  • A doll was then placed in random locations near the mountain.
  • Participants were then shown different pictures and asked to identify which of them showed the dolls' perspective.
  • Participants aged four indicated images that showed their perspective rather than the dolls, but children aged over seven could identify the correct image.

Hughes policeman doll study sample

Hughes' 'policeman doll' study recruited 30 children aged between three and a half to five years old.

This age is a crucial part of the study as Piaget proposed that children at this age are in the pre-operational stage.

The preoperational stage is a stage of Piaget's cognitive theory of development that is characterised by children developing egocentric skills.

Therefore, the participants were at the ideal age for Hughes to test Piaget's theory.

Hughes policeman doll study procedure

Hughes carefully ensured that children could easily relate to and understand his study. Instead of the many different parts of the previously mentioned three mountains study, there were just three major components to the policeman doll study. These were a doll representing a young boy and two policeman dolls, and they were to be placed around a set of intersecting lines.

The intersecting lines represented walls to see if children could identify if the doll were in sight of the policemen.

Hughes placed just one policeman doll at first, putting it in different places around the walls. The children were then asked to place the doll in a way that would 'hide' it from the sight of the policeman doll.

Unlike what was found in Piaget's three mountains experiment, the children in this experiment experienced little difficulty with this task, suggesting that Hughes' experiment was indeed accounting for gaps in the design of the three mountains study.

This first step acted as a 'trial' to help children understand what they were required to do for the study and for Hughes' to ensure that the participants had correctly understood the task.

When a study measures what it intends to, it is known to have high internal validity.

After the trial, a second policeman doll was brought into the study. Unlike the introductory step with the singular doll, this required the children to consider the viewpoints of three different subjects: the boy doll and the two policeman dolls. With this added challenge, the children were once again asked to hide the boy, but this time from both policemen.

Hughes' 'policeman doll' study, two figurines playing hide-and-seek, StudySmarterHughes' applied the children's game hide-and-seek to the task used in his study to measure egocentrism, flaticon.com/free-icon

Policeman doll study results

Unlike Piaget's three mountains task, the children in Hughes' experiment were easily capable of hiding the boy from the policeman from the age of about four onwards. The four-year-olds were able to successfully hide the boy from the policemen 90% of the time.

The children were so successful at the task, in fact, that measures were even taken to make the test more difficult. Attempts to make the task more difficult included adding an extra policeman doll for a total of three and adding more walls. However, this had no significant effect on the children's ability to hide the boy doll.

Policeman doll study conclusion

Hughes concluded that the results he gathered demonstrated that children over the age of four years old do not demonstrate nearly as much egocentric thought as was previously assumed and found by studies such as the three mountains task. The children in this task were clearly able to take multiple viewpoints into account, which was not established by Piaget.

The results of this task tell us that Piaget's test may have been reductive and didn't take into account factors such as children's ability to understand the task When testing egocentric thinking. Hughes' argument that the three mountains task was simply too complicated for young children is supported by the results of his study.

Hughes policeman doll study Strength & weakness

Hughes' study is a valuable response to Piaget's work, but no study is perfect. Let's analyse its strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths

  • Hughes used an experimental design, which allowed him to have high levels of control over the experiment and its variables. This means that his results are reliable and could easily be reproduced by anyone following the same method.
  • Hughes' experiment was far more reminiscent of a situation a child might find themselves in in real life. While it's unusual for a child to be confronted by the police, they often enjoy games such as hide and seek, which also require them to understand the viewpoints of others. This may mean the results may be more applicable and valid than those from Piaget's experiment.
  • Overall the task was simpler and made more intuitive sense to the children than Piaget's to show that children may not be as egocentric as what was previously proposed.

Weaknesses

  • The children used in this study were all British boys, so we may not be able to extrapolate the results to the entire population. This negatively impacts the validity of the results.

When research does not take into account cultural differences, it is called ethnocentric.

  • The study used a very small sample size of just 30, making it harder to extrapolate its findings and generalise them to the broader population.
  • While this experiment was more natural and intuitive to the children than Piaget's three mountains experiment, it still took place in an artificial environment and may therefore lack ecological validity.

Hughes Policeman Doll Study - Key takeaways

  • Hughes aimed to study egocentrism in children and their ability to understand the viewpoints of others in a more simple way than Piaget's study.
  • Hughes gathered 30 children from the ages of three and a half to five.
  • The child was allowed to gain an understanding of the experiment before it formally began. Hughes did this by running a supervised trial of the task with just one police doll.
  • When the experiment started, the children were asked to hide the boy doll from two police dolls using the walls provided.
  • The results showed that 90% of the children aged four and older were able to successfully hide the boy doll from the policeman dolls.
  • In conclusion, Hughes found that egocentric thinking is not as prevalent in children aged four and older as Piaget previously found.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hughes Policeman Doll Study

The policeman doll study is where children were asked to hide a doll from policeman dolls. The study aimed to identify if children aged between 3-5 years old displayed egocentric thinking; the inability to think and understand from others' perspectives. 

The children in Hughes' policeman doll study were all British boys aged between three and a half to five years old.

Hughes conducted the policeman doll study in 1975.

Hughes used an experimental design for his study. This makes it easier for other researchers to replicate and identify whether the results were reliable. In addition, Hughes' created a task that was easy for children to follow than Piaget's three mountains test. This may mean the results may be more applicable and valid than those from Piaget's experiment.


On the other hand, the weaknesses of the study are that it used a small sample size of 30 and, therefore, may lack generalisability and lacks ecological validity due to it being carried out in an artificial setting.

Hughes concluded that children do not display egocentric thinking as young as Piaget proposed. 

Final Hughes Policeman Doll Study Quiz

Question

How many children took part in Hughes' policeman doll study?

Show answer

Answer

30 children took part in the study.

Show question

Question

How old were the children in the policeman doll study?

Show answer

Answer

The children were aged three and a half to five years old.

Show question

Question

What was Hughes' aim in the policeman doll study?

Show answer

Answer

Hughes aimed to study egocentric thinking in children as well as their ability to understand others' viewpoints.

Show question

Question

How did Hughes' study differ from Piaget's three mountains task?

Show answer

Answer

Hughes designed his experiment to be much more intuitive and simple for children to complete.

Show question

Question

What materials were used in the policeman doll study?

Show answer

Answer

The materials used consisted of a boy doll, two policeman dolls and a model of intersecting walls. When Hughes' attempted to make the study more complex, more policeman dolls and 'walls' were added.

Show question

Question

What was the children's task in the policeman doll study?

Show answer

Answer

The children in the study were instructed to hide the boy doll from the police dolls behind a wall.

Show question

Question

What were the results of the study?

Show answer

Answer

The results showed that 90% of children aged four or higher were able to hide the doll. 

Show question

Question

What did Hughes conclude?

Show answer

Answer

Hughes concluded that egocentric thinking was not as prevalent in children aged four and older.

Show question

Question

How was Hughes' study a successful challenge to Piaget's?

Show answer

Answer

  • Hughes' study's simplicity allowed him to investigate children's levels of egocentrism in a way that children could understand.
  • Hughes' also found that Piaget's procedure used in the three mountain task may have been too complex for children to understand. 
  • Finally, Hughes' results indicated that younger children do not display egocentric thinking, which Piaget found in his study.

Show question

Question

What design did Hughes' study use?

Show answer

Answer

Hughes' study used an experimental design.

Show question

Question

How does an experimental design affect validity?

Show answer

Answer

An experimental design allows the investigator to have great control over the experiment and its variables and makes results more valid.

Show question

Question

How does the validity of this study procedure compare to Piaget's?

Show answer

Answer

The study can be considered more valid than Piaget's.

Show question

Question

Why might the participants' demographics limit the validity of this study's findings?

Show answer

Answer

The participants were all young British boys; this means the study is ethnocentric as it does not consider cultural differences. 

Show question

Question

This study took place in an artificial environment. How might this affect validity?

Show answer

Answer

Because the study took place in an artificial environment, the study's findings may lack ecological validity.

Show question

Question

Why might this study's sample size limit the reliability of Hughes' policeman doll study? 

Show answer

Answer

This study used a very small sample size (30), so it is difficult to generalise the findings to the broader population. 

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Hughes Policeman Doll Study quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.