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13 Pages

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PSY 302
Alba Agostino

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1 Class Notes – PSY302 Lecture 4 Chapter 4 Theories of Cognitive Development  Why developmental theories? 1. Provide a framework for understanding important phenomena 2. Raise crucial questions about human nature 3. Motivate new research studies that lead to a better understanding of children  Why not just one theory?  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.  The theories examined in this lecture allow a broader appreciation of cognitive development than any one of them does by itself.  Questions Addressed by Piagetian Theory  Main Questions Answered  Nature/ Nurture  Continuity/discontinuity  The Active Child  Jean Piaget  Jean Piaget’s theory remains the standard against which all other theories are judged  Constructivist theory – children construct an understanding of their world based on observations of the effects of their behaviour Constructivist theory 2  Children are seen as  Active  Intrinsically motivated to learn  Cognitive Structures  Cognitive structures: basic mental tools needed to make sense of information.  Interrelated memories, thoughts, strategies  Scheme  Used to make sense of experiences  “Script”  Sensorimotor action pattern Cognitive Growth  When things make sense…  Cognitive equilibrium  When things don’t make sense???  Cognitive disequilibrium  Organization and Adaptation Organization  Organization: the tendency to integrate particular observations into coherent knowledge  Internal rearrangement and linking together of schemes  “Looking” 3  “Reaching”  “Grasping”  “Sucking”  LookingReachingGraspingSucking  Visually directed reaching  “Looking+reaching+grasping” Adaptation  Assimilation:  Existing schemes used to interpret novel information  New information absorbed into existing scheme Accommodation:  Adaptation: the tendency to respond to the demands of the environment to meet one’s goals  Creation of new scheme or alteration of existing scheme to cope with information that does not fit Equilibration  The process by which children (and adults) balance assimilation and accommodation to create stable understanding Three Phases: 1. Equilibration: no discrepancies 2. Disequilibration: new information cannot be fitted into existing schemas 4 3. More stable equilibrium: development of more sophisticated understanding that eliminates the shortcomings of the old one. Sources of Continuity Sources of Discontinuity  The discontinuous aspects of Piaget’s theory are distinct, hierarchical stages.  Central properties of Piaget’s stage theory:  Qualitative change  Broad applicability across topics and contexts  Brief transitions  Invariant sequence  Hypothesized that children progress through four stages of cognitive development, each building on the previous one. Sensorimotor Stage  Birth to age 2  Build newborn reflexes (sucking, rooting, etc.) into symbolic activity  6 substages  Marked by increase in complexity of cognitive activity  Only a marker  Sequential rather than age defined  Object Permanence 5  Understanding that objects exist independent of our ability to perceive them  Substage 1 (1 to 4 months)  “Out of sight, out of mind”  Substage 2 (4 to 8 months)  Search for partially concealed objects  Substage 3 ( 8 to 12 months)  Search for concealed objects  A-not-B Task  Show infant attractive toy  Hide toy under one of two cloths (A)  Then move toy to other cloth (B) as infant watches  Allow infant to choose and they will choose A, where they found the object previously  Piaget’s account  Physical behaviour determines where the object will be found  Substage 6  Master object permanence  Piaget’s A-Not-B Task Deferred Imitation  Between 18-24 months Infants become able to form enduring mental representations. The first sign of this capacity is deferred imitation, the repetition of other people’s behavior a substantial time after it occurred. Neo-nativists 6  Challenges to Piaget’s conception of infancy  Neo-nativists  Idea that much of cognitive knowledge is innate, requiring little specific experiences to be expressed Critique of Piaget  Object permanence  Baillargeon (1987)  Habituation/dishabituation paradigm  Possible vs. Impossible event  More interest in impossible event  Object permanence evident at 3 ½ months  The Possible and the Impossible Event  Core-Knowledge Theories  Emphasize the sophistication of infants’ and young children’s thinking in areas that have been important throughout human evolutionary history.  Two characteristic features of research inspired by core-knowledge theories:  Focuses on areas that have been important throughout human evolutionary history.  Young children reason in ways that considerably more advanced than Piaget suggested were possible.  A. View of Children’s Nature 7  Core-knowledge theories depict children as active learners, constantly striving to solve problems and to organize their understanding into coherent wholes.  However, core-knowledge theorists view children as entering the world with specialized learning abilities that allow them to quickly and effortlessly acquire information of evolutionary importance.  Preoperational Stage  A mix of impressive cognitive acquisitions and equally impressive limitations  A notable acquisition is symbolic representation, the use of one object to stand for another, which makes a variety of new behaviors possible.  One major limitation is egocentrism, the tendency to perceive the world solely from one’s own point of view.  Preoperational Stage  Egocentrism  Difficulty recognizing another’s perspective  NOT that child was unconcerned with other’s points of view  A related limitation is centration, the tendency to focus on a single, perceptually striking feature of an object or event.  Three
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