Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Victor W. Marshall




Role-taking, as considered in the writings of the social psychologist George Herbert Mead, is a developmental construct essential for social interaction. Since its early formulations, however, it has suffered from conceptual confusion and misrepresentation. The present study analyzes the nature and development of role-taking ability in the works of G. H. Mead and Jean Piaget in order to provide clarification of the concept and elucidation of the factors considered conducive for its development.

It is argued that Jean Piaget's cognitive developmental framework, reinterprettaed in Meadian terms, provides important extensions to the theory of role-taking: by relating the development of language and this ability in children; by offering a more thorough analysis of the development of meaning; by providing further clarification of the specific features of the interaction situation important for development.

Examination of current research strategies suggests that present global and static measures of social interaction and role-taking be replaced by the original formulations of Mead and Piaget which emphasize role-taking as a cognitive process occurring in interaction. Systematic and detailed exploration of the interaction situation at the individual level is needed. In addition, analyses must consider the child's stage of development in conjunction with interactions in the social environment.

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