PSYC 100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Joint Attention, Lev Vygotsky, Elizabeth Spelke

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4 Feb 2016
Week #15: Cognitive Development
Winter 2016
Self and Identity:
Rene Descartes: a French philosopher who attempted to convince himself that all he
knew was false in order to determine the basic truths of the universe. He only allowed
himself to stop once he found something that must be true. “I am, I exist”.
The Rouge Test: a method used to test for the presence of a sense of self in people
and animals.
Guided Movements: movements with an attempt to manipulate objects in some
way. Attempts to interact with one’s environment represent a sense of self in its
most basic form.
Mirror Fighting: the rouge test was first used in animal research when
researchers placed a mirror inside an enclosure with a pair of chimpanzees.
They treated their reflection as they would an unfamiliar chimpanzee by
vocalizing, threatening it, and even inviting it to play.
Look at Me Now: after extended exposure they began to recognize themselves
in the mirror and used their newly gained perspective for tasks like grooming
parts of their bodies they could not otherwise see. Researchers added red dots
to the appearance of the chimps who reacted to their changed appearance.
Humans are first able to pass the rogue test between the ages of 15 - 24 months.
Mirror recognition has been demonstrated in only a handful of other animals while it is
nearly universal in adult humans.
Two Years: at the age of two we can produce:
Self Descriptions: development of self continues as language skills increase.
Children at the age of two years can refer to themselves verbally either by
name or pronoun. (I am happy).
Eight Years: at the age of 8 we have a higher level of:
Self-Concept: an individual’s perception of self, including knowledge, feelings,
and ideas about oneself. It is used as a basis for how we describe ourselves.
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Social Comparisons: evaluating one’s abilities and opinions by comparing
oneself with others. We compare ourselves to others and consider how we
Adolescence: in early adolescence, children become concerned with how they are
perceived by others. This fades away as they gain a stronger and more coherent
concept of who they are as individuals. They may experience an imaginary audience
where they feel they are being watched and evaluated by others much more closely
than actually occurs.
Knowing Others:
Theory of Mind (ToM): expectations concerning how experiences affects mental
states, especially those of another. It is a reasoning process that attempts to predict
how others might think or behave based on their motives, needs, and goals. There
are several ways we can test this:
False-Belief Problems: a set of tests used to determine children’s theory of
mind and false-belief understanding (researchers open a smartie box to show
that it contains pencils, child says that someone would think there were
smarties inside).
Displacement Test: a test that explores how children reason through a change
in location from two different perspectives (children watch a scene in which a
puppet places an object in a cupboard then leaves the stage. A second puppet
takes the object and moves it to a drawer. The first puppet returns and asks the
child where it will look for the object. Three year olds fail by choosing drawer
while four year olds are correct and say cupboard).
Intersubjectivity: the ability to share a focus of attention with others.
Habituation: in habituation experiments researchers demonstrate that infants are
capable of understanding the goals of others. When an infant begins to understand
what is occurring they begin to watch less. This process is called infant habituation.
Using Your Head: the ability to understand others goals become more complex over
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-12 Months: infants expand their understanding of goals by considering the
situation of the other person when deducing their goals. Infants at 12 months of
age take into account the goal, actions, and situations of other people when
trying to make sense of their actions.
Lies: occur not long before the arrival of the belief understanding is lying. Many
children begin to lie around three years of age, and it is considered to be a normal
part of development.
Factors that Affect the Theory of the Mind:
1. Executive Functioning: includes the capacity to control impulses, plan complex
actions, foresee consequences, and use working memory.
2. Perseveration: inability to switch strategies as new information is presented.
The initial strategy might work, but when a change is called for the strategy
remains the same. Often occurs in young children and individuals with frontal
lobe damage.
Theories Regarding ToM:
Autism Spectrum Disorder: a group of developmental disorders that affect the
brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. There is a
theory that ToM develops out of the same cluster of genetic and epigenetic
processes as ASD. Some theorists propose that autism occurs when a child
lacks ToM.
Complexity and Brain Development: some theorists believe ToM exists within
the brain in a pre-specified way and that it follows a fairly predictable
maturational timeline.
Evolutionary Advantages of ToM:
Theory of mind would have helped maintain sharing and collective conscience
during the times of hunter-gatherers living in small bands. It may have been
crucial to the development of moral conscience.
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