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Course Code
PSY 302
Alba A.

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Class Notes – PSY302 Lecture 4
Chapter 4 Theories of Cognitive Development
Piaget’s theory: removing an object away from a young infant’s sight should lead
the infant to act as if the object never existed.
Why developmental theories?
1. Provide a framework for understanding important phenomena
Objective prominence: Babies at 8 months wont fuss when things are hide for
Seen in terms of Piaget’s theory, the event of hiding object away from a child
exemplifies a very general and profoundly important developmental
phenomenon: infants below 8 months of age react to the disappearance of an
object as though they do not understand that object still exists
2. Raise crucial questions about human nature
despite disagreement about how best to interpret young infant’s failure to retrieve
hidden objects, researchers agree that Piaget’s theory raises a crucial question
about human nature:
odo infants realize from the first day of life that objects continue to exist
when out of sight, or is this something that they learn later?
oMore significant, do young infants understand that people continue to
exist when they cannot be seen?
oDo they fear that mom has disappeared when she is no longer in sight?
3. Motivate new research studies that lead to a better understanding of children
Munakata’s experiment: placing the object under transperant glass children
quickly remove the cover and get the toy this demonstrate that they were both
motivated to obtain it and sufficiently skilled to do so. support Piaget’s theory
Diamond’s experiment: use the opaque coverings as Piaget didfound that even
6 month olds can locate the object if allow to reach immediately indicated that
memory for the location of hidden objects, as well as the understanding that they
continue to exist, is crucial to success on the task. this experiment indicate a
need to revise Piaget’s theory.

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Why not just one theory in child development?
Because development is so complex no single theory accounts for all of it.
Theories of cognitive and social development, for example, focus on different
capabilities. providing a good theoretical account of development in either of
these areas is an immense challenge, b/c each of them spans a huge range of
Cognitive development include the growth of such diverse capabilities as
perception, attention, language, problem solving, reasoning, memory,
conceptual understanding, and intelligence
Social development includes the growth of equally diverse areas:
emotions, personality, relationships with peers and family members, self-
understanding, aggression, and moral behaviour
The theories examined in this lecture allow a broader appreciation of
cognitive development than any one of them does by itself.
Piagetian Theory
Still remains the best-known cognitive developmental theory in a field
replete with theories because:
Questions Addressed by Piagetian TheoryMain Questions Answered:
Nature/ Nurture
The Active Child
Jean Piaget’s theory remains the standard against which all other theories are
judged. His approach is often labeled:
Constructivist theory
Children are seen as
construct an understanding of their world based on observations
of the effects of their behavior children create their own reality
“child as scientist” is the dominant metaphor in Piaget’s theory
Active children learn many important lessons on their own
rather than depending on instruction from adults or older children

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Intrinsically motivated to learn we have an innate motivation to
seek out the world children don’t need to be rewarded or
punished; they discover the world because they want to
Cognitive Structures
Interrelated memories, thoughts, strategies
there are many innate reflexes that come with birth ex. Scheme of
Used to make sense of experiences
Sensorimotor action pattern
Schemes continued
Mental representations
Images, concepts
Operational harder to apply, build on symbolic (imagine5*5=25. We can
see the numbers in the mind, but how do we add it)
Strategies, plans, rules
Cognitive Growth
When things make sense…
Cognitive equilibrium
When things don’t make sense???
Cognitive disequilibrium new information lead children to perceive that their
understanding is inadequate what my understanding of the world is different
with the reality
Organization and Adaptation
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