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Lecture 3

PSY 202 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Lev Vygotsky, Object Permanence, Egocentrism


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY 202
Professor
William Huggon
Lecture
3

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Human Development
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
8:01 AM
Cognitive Development: Study of how children acquire the ability to
learn, think, reason, communicate, and remember.
Theories of Cognitive Development
Numerous explanations of how we acquire the ability to learn, think,
communicate, and remember over time
Some have been debunked
Differ in three ways:
Stagelike vs gradual changes in understanding
Sudden spurts in knowledge followed by a relatively stable
period
•OR
Continuous, gradual, incremental development
Domain-general vs domain-specific
All (or most) areas of cognitive function change/develop at the
same time
•OR
Each area/domain has different independent growth of skills
I.e. IQ is not only about genetics but also social skills
Principal source of learning
Models differ in views of principal source of learning
Physical experience, or social interaction, or biological
maturation
Or combination of all three ^
!
Jean Piaget
Stage theorist who believed skills were domain-general
Thought end point of cognitive development is ability to reason logically
about hypotheticals
Tested on his own children first
!
Piaget’s Theory:
Children use assimilation to acquire new knowledge within a stage
Have an idea then add extra knowledge to that idea

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When one can no longer assimilate new information, accommodation!
forces change between stages
I.e. Learn a new schema
• Assimilation
The absorption of new experience into current schemas/thinking
• Accommodation
Changing current thinking/belief to make it more compatible with
experience
Sometimes adults have a problem with this because they have so
much experience with something it's difficult to adapt to an anomaly
!
!
Piaget's Stages
Four stages, each with a specific way of looking at the world and cognitive
limitations
!
1. Sensorimotor
Birth – 2 years
Focus on the here and now
Difficult seeing the separation between themselves and the world
Lack object permanence and deferred imitation
Object Permanence:
The understanding that objects continue to exist out of sight
0-2 year old babies are poor at this
"Out of sight, out of mind"
Deferred Imitation:
Being able to imitate or perform an action previously observed
0-2 year old babies are poor at this
Babies can’t do object permanence and deferred imitation
because they are in the here and now. The major milestone is
mental representation – the ability to think about things that
are absent
!
1. Preoperational stage
2 – 7 years
Marked by an ability to construct mental representations of experience
Can remember what happened before
Hampered by egocentrism and inability to perform mental operations
Egocentrism:

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Perspective taking. Being able to see the world from other's
literal points of view
Assume that everyone thinks about them and that others can
read their minds
Lack conservation
Conservation:
The understanding that despite transformation in physical
presentation, the amount remains the same
I.e. They'll choose two smaller scoops of ice cream instead of
one larger scoops
!
1. Concrete Operations
7 – 11 years
Can perform mental operations, but only for actual physical events
Can now pass conservation tasks
Can now perform organizational tasks
BUT need to be there or past physical experience
Transition stage, can do more things in their head
!
1. Formal operations
11 – adulthood
Can understand hypothetical reasoning beyond the here and now
Also logical concepts and abstract questions
!
Cons of Piaget
Development is more continuous
Probably underestimated children’s competence
Culturally biased methods
Pros of Piaget
Still highly influential, helped change how we think about cognitive
development
Children are not small adults
Learning is an active rather than passive process
Exploring general cognitive processes that explain multiple domains
of knowledge
!
Lev Vygotsky
Theory focused on social and cultural influences on cognitive development
Parents structure environments for learning and then gradually remove it
(scaffolding)
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