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Lecture 3

PSYC 251 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Lev Vygotsky, Intersubjectivity, Joint Attention

Course Code
PSYC 251
Stanka A Fitneva

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PSYC 251 January 22, 2018
Module 3
Theories of Cognitive Development
Piagetian Theory
- Aka constructivist theory (active child)
- Believed that the child constructed their own constructs/schemas
- Children generate hypotheses, perform experiments, and draw conclusions
- Intrinsically motivated to learn
- Both nature and nurture are important
o Piaget was trained as a biologist and worked in a lab studying development so it
explains why he would believe in the effects of nature and nurture on the growing
- Believed in discontinuous stages
o Thought that children thought a specific way at each stage
- Continuous processes
- Most of his research was done through observing his own children of children who went
to a high-end boarding school in Switzerland
o This lead to very restricted sample so he can be criticized for underestimating the
importance of nurture
Piagetian Processes
- Believed children have biological drive to make sense of the world that is driven by:
- Adaptation response to environment
o Assimilation integrate new info into existing schemes
o Accommodation restructure schemes with new info child has acquired
o These are sub processes of adaptation
- Organization internal process
o This happens when a child is no longer directly interacting with the environment
but later, when they are reflecting
o He realized his children would talk in their cribs at the end of the day and they
would talk themselves through what had happened
- Equilibration balances assimilation and accommodation
o Equilibrium no discrepancy between experience and understanding
o Disequilibrium discrepancy understood, which leads to better understanding
- When a child is in the middle of a stage, there is little accommodation and lots of
assimilation, when changing stages, it’s the opposite
Properties of Piagetian Stages
- Different stages are qualitatively different
- Broad applicability types of thinking are the same across all types of cognition and
- Brief transitional periods where kids vary back and forth
- Invariant and universal
o Invariant = you must go through all steps in the process in the correct order
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PSYC 251 January 22, 2018
Module 3
Overview of Stages
- Built theory based on idea that children make different mistakes at different ages
- Sensorimotor Thought
o Birth to 2 years
o Broken down into 6 further substages
o Only stage where Piaget mentions gradual change
o Limitations
No representational thought infants cannot form internal symbols early
in this stage; cannot think about anything that isn’t right in front of them
Object permanence is lacking early in this stage
o Achievements
Representational, symbolic thought gradually emerges as stage progresses
Object permanence develops
- Preoperational Thought
o Two to 7 years
o Limitations
Intuitive logic leads to egocentrism, animism, artificialism, and an
inability to use more objective forms of logic
Schemes are not reversible and not operational
They have concepts but they cannot work on or change them
Children fail conservation tasks because of centration, focus on static
endpoints, and lack of reversibility
o Achievements
Flourishing mental representations and symbols are seen in language, art,
and play
- Concrete Operational Though
o Seven to 12 years
o Limitations
Logic is limited to concrete, tangible materials and experiences
Cannot understand concepts (not concrete) like justice
o Achievements
Logical thought is more objective and allows skills like inclusion and
transitivity to develop
Schemes can be reversible and operational
Children pass conservation problems due to decentration, focus on
dynamic transformation, and reversibility
- Formal Operational Thought
o Twelve years and up
o Limitations
Adolescent egocentrism is seen in the imaginary audience and personal
o Achievements
Hypothetico-deductive reasoning emerges
Abstract thought emerges
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PSYC 251 January 22, 2018
Module 3
Sensorimotor Stages
- Basic Reflexes
o 0-1 months
o Use reflexes to explore world
o Accommodation of sucking occurs within first few weeks
- Primary Circular
o 1-4 months
o “Primary” because infants were only using their own bodies and “circular”
because they are building on things that are happening unintentionally
o Build on reflexes and unintentional events
o First efforts at imitation
- Secondary Circular
o 4-8 months
o Increasingly interested in objects
o Lack object permanence (if you take an object away, they will act as if the object
no longer exists)
o Intentional behaviour starts around 8 months of age
- Intentional Behavior
o 8-12 months
o A not B error = if you hide something at location A and change hiding place to
location B, infants will keep looking at A
o Gain object permanence
o Goal-directed behaviour
- Tertiary Circular
o 12-18 months
o Old actions with new objects
o Actively begin to explore the world
o Engage in delayed imitation of unfamiliar behaviour, language
- Using symbols
o 18-24 months
o Beginning of representation of objects
o Make-believe play
o Internal depictions of objects and events, indicated by sudden solution to
A-not-B Error
- The child is searching at A (where the object had been hidden before), but is looking at B
- Affected by number of times the object is hidden at A, delay time, salience of different
hiding spaces, different motor movements
Preoperational Stage
- Representations but not operations
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