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Week 16.docx

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PSYC 100
Ingrid Johnsrude

Week 16: Major Theories of Developmental Psychology John Watson’s Little Albert: • John Watson conducted an experiment using classical conditioning, to prove fear is a learned behaviour • Little Albert displayed few signs of fear of various stimuli • Watson then introduced a white rat, accompanied by a loud clanging sound that scared Albert • Eventually Albert learned to fear all things fuzzy B.F. Skinner: • Studied operant conditioning, making 2 important discoveries • First, attention (even negative) is a powerful reinforce for their actions • Second, it is far more difficult to extinguish behaviour that has been intermittently reinforced than behaviour that has been consistently reinforced Jean Piaget: • Developed a theory of cognitive development that theorized humans develop through a series of 4 stages that roughly map 4 key ages. • He proposed children of similar ages make similar errors in problem-solving tasks, and all developing children go through the same sequence of developmental stages • Children must become proficient at each stage in order to progress to the next stage • Piaget believed our progression through these stages is marked by the building a rebuilding of a schema (a mental framework through which we can organize and understand information about our surroundings) • This is done through the cyclic processes of assimilation: Process by which new information about the world is incorporated into existing schemata, accommodation: Process by which existing schemata are modified or changed by new experiences and equilibration: Process within Piaget's theory that reorganizes schemata. This is the point where the original schema no longer holds true and we must form an entirely new, stable, and more advanced schemata. Sensorimotor Stage (birth-2 years): • The first stage where infants build an understanding of their environment through their sensory and motor abilities • Many reflexes fade and are replaced by voluntary behaviour • Begin to develop mental representations (starting to understand that objects continue to exist when they can’t see them) at about 8 months • After 8 months they begin to gain the concept of object permanence, starting to search for objects they have hidden • The A-not-B Error: Piaget task that indicates preservative error as, for example, an infant continues to look for an object where he last found it, despite seeing the object placed elsewhere. Preoperational Stage (2-6 or 7 years): • The second stage of development which emphasizes the inability of the child to perform operations or reversible mental processes • Period is marked by substantial cognitive development in symbolic representation and the beginning of logical reasoning • Children are quite egocentric: and often cannot understand that others have knowledge, beliefs or visual perspectives different from their own • Have trouble iwth concept of conservation: that the quantity of something remains the same although its shape or size of its container changes (ex the short and tall cups) Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 or 12 years): • The third stage which marks the transition into adolescence • Children master conservation problems • Problems considering more than one variable becomes less challenging (considering both height and width of container) • Experience growth in ability to understand thoughts and feelings of others (perspective taking) • Comprehend more complicated cause-effect relations and begin to understand logical problem solving • Use of logic is still tough • Children have trouble extending an idea from one context to another, especially when the information is not right in front of them Formal Operational Stage (12-adulthood) • Fourth and final stage in which a person gains the ability to think about abstract concepts as well as formulate and test hypotheses in a logical scientific fashion. • Reaching this stage of development is not universal (many people stay at the concrete operational stage) • Even the people that do reach this stage are not able to apply these forms of reasoning across all domains, but are limited to areas in which they have expertise Problems with Piaget’s Theory: • Does not account for variability in child development • Ability to solve conservation tasks varies across individuals by several years • Cognitive capability of infants is much greater than Piaget theorized • Object permanence has been demonstrated in infants as young as 3.5 months old • Infants also seem to show an understanding of statistical sampling, to detect patterns in sounds etc • Piaget emphasized the physical environment much more than the social environment • Piaget also had a vague mechanism for change, and while the concepts of schema make sense, how they work is difficult to clearly define Socio-Cultural Theory: • First proponent of socio-cultural theory is Lev Vygotsky, who agreed with Piaget about the importance of active interaction with the environment for development, but placed more of an emphasis on the social environment as opposed to the physical environment • An important element of this theory is intersubjectivity: An understanding between two individuals of the topic they are discussing, which encompasses the concepts of joint attention: The ability to share attention with another towards the same object or event and social referencing: The tendency of a person to look to another in an ambiguous situation to obtain clarifying information. The Goldilocks Solutions: • Social Scaffolding: When a mentor or guide supports a learner by matching his or her efforts to a child's developmental level, changing the level of support to fit the child's current performance. As a child's competence increases, less guidance is given. • This process related the Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development: The increased potential for problem solving and conceptual ability that exists for a child if expert mentoring and guidance are available. Since tasks that are too easy result in boredom, and tasks too difficult result in frustration, no learning occurs. Tasks that are
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