The Development of Body Schemes in Children Aged 18–36 Months

  • Adriana Lis
  • Paola Venuti
Part of the Recent Research in Psychology book series (PSYCHOLOGY)


The present paper reports a part of a larger research program concerning the development of body schemes in children aged 18 months to 4.6 years. Body schemes are thought to reflect children’s mental representations of human bodies. The composition of these schemes, that is, their position, rotation, symmetry and integration, are indices of children’s representational abilities. In this study it was hypothesized that though children’s ability to identify, recognize and label single parts of the body will precede their representational ability of bodies, the former ability is a necessary but insufficient prerequisite ability for the latter representational ability. To study this hypothesis, a special assessment strategy was developed consisting of two tests. The first assessed the children’s ability to recognize and identify parts of their own body, parts of his or her own face and that of the experimenter. In addition, the children were required to label and/or identify parts of the body and face of a human model. The second test consisted of three forms of construction of a body and a face which were presented successively. First, the children were requested to complete the construction of incomplete models. They were then asked to construct the models while receiving the parts successively, and finally, after receiving all parts at once. The finished constructions were scored according to their composition, that is, position, rotation, symmetry and integration. All children were also presented with intelligence tests. This study was conducted with 36 children, aged 18–36 months, frequenting a creche. The results of analyses of variance and an “exploratory” factor analysis (because of the small sample size) on the data obtained from both representational tests and the intelligence tests confirm the general hypothesis.


Body Part Intelligence Test Body Scheme Construction Task Incomplete Model 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adriana Lis
  • Paola Venuti

There are no affiliations available

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