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Lecture 13

PSYC 354 Lecture 13: Ch. 12 lecture notes march 16

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PSYC 354
Jeremy Carpendale

Psyc354 – March 16/17 1 Psyc354: Cognitive Development Social Understanding II: • Children vary at the rate they develop social skills, so it is important to understand how they develop them • Two dimensions that influence the system in which children develop (1): o The child’s characteristics o The child’s social environment • “In a large study of typically developing 60-month-old twins, most of the variability in the children’s social environment appeared to be due to environmental experience rather than genetic factors” (1) • Therefore, social experience likely plays an important role in social cognitive development, probably influenced by parent’s interaction with kids • Dunn and colleagues longitudinal research: o Found that children who experience cooperative interaction with their siblings were more advanced in false belief understanding at 48 months-old o Children who lack such typical social experience (maybe because they grow up in orphanages) tend to have autism-like symptoms • Some studies show that children growing up in lower socioeconomic circumstances are delayed in false belief understanding (1) o These differences may be due to different amounts of parent-child talk Culture: • If social experience is a major component in a child’s development of social understanding, then it can be evaluated across cultures (2) • Some research shows children passing false belief tasks at ages 3-5, but other studies do not find such results across cultures o Some have reported significant delays in social understanding o Delays of 3 or more years compared to Western cultures have been reported in some cultures in Papua New Guinea and Cameroon • Some cultures may have language limitations, thus imposing on development of some social understanding aspects o Ex: a culture in Peru did not have a word for ‘think’ or ‘believe’, so they would instead say ‘what would he say?’ • Mayer and Trauble (2013): o Tested a sample of over 300 Samoan children, and found that there was no significant difference between 3 to 5-year-olds, and a majority of kids didn’t pass until age 8 (2) ▪ Troy’s note: even then, at age 8, only about 57% passed. It wasn’t until age 14 or so that over 70% passed. One possibility is due to ‘opacity of mind’, where these children are not taught to think about what other people are thinking. AKA, everything should be read at surface value, such as intentions, wants, and desires • Culture is mediated through social interaction and the specific experiences the child will have, so to understand cultural differences, we must understand familial differences Psyc354 – March 16/17 2 The Sibling Effect: • Sibling Effect: having brothers or sisters is often linked to an advanced understanding of false beliefs (3) o Effect appears to occur when siblings are 12 months older to about 12 years older o These ages are probably the cut-off because any older and the children would not likely interact with each other that often • Sibling effect is not always replicated, and no effect of having siblings has been found for twins or for those that are ‘advanced in language’ (3) o As such, it’s likely more than just having someone present in the house; the quality of the relationship likely influences social understanding development • This is like scaffolding; process-relational evidence • Parents will use more mental state talk with older siblings, so younger siblings will hear more mental state talk • So why do we observe the sibling effect? • Having siblings can also change the way parents talk to their children (3) o There is more talk about others’ feelings when one has an older sibling, so language may play a role in this effect • Having siblings may increase a child’s development of self-awareness o A study of Pacific Islanders of New Zealand, an inter-dependant culture, assessed toddlers at 20 and 26 months. A sibling effect was found, especially for children with two or more older siblings. This effect was mediated, however, through the development of the children’s self-awareness ▪ Having a sibling may provide more opportunities to develop a sense of self through learning how to use language like ‘me’ or ‘mine’, and thus help differentiate between the self and others. This self-awareness may facilitate the development of social understanding (3) ▪ Eventually this self-awareness is said to lead to false belief understanding • “In families with more children there may be teasing, competing, cooperating, collaborating playing, and so on” (3) o If play is important, then having a sibling or peers might influence social development • Parenting style is one dimension that mediates the sibling effect: o Disciplinary situations: how do parents react to a misbehaving child? ▪ General finding is that assertive parenting is linked to poor social understanding ▪ Parents asking their children to think how the other person might feel in that situation is linked to greater social understanding o Parental engagement is linked to better social understanding ▪ Help child reflect upon and understand events in their life ▪ Involvement and talking to their children shows benefits • Socioeconomic status (as indicated by occupation and education) is correlated to social understanding o While the effects might not be large, they are consistently correlated across studies o Not due to money, likely, but the level of interaction and engagement and parenting styles in these families Psyc354 – March 16/17 3 Play as a context for social development: • Pretend play in particular may be important if it involves learning about others’ perspectives o “children who tended to take on roles in pretend play were found to be advanced in false belief understanding when they were tested 7 months later” (4) o However, the amount of pretend play and social understanding may be bi- directional, with one causing the other or vice versa • Children rated as popular by peers were also found to be advanced in false belief understanding (4) o If interaction with peers is helpful to developing social understanding, then it logically follows that lack of experience would be linked to slower social development • Social deprivation: children who grow up in poor quality institutions are delayed in social understanding o Ex: 10% of children grow up in orphanages in Ukraine, so these children have poor social understanding and development. They are typically kept in cribs by themselves, and thus have limited interaction early on • Peer rejection: o If a child is rejected by peers, they show a deficit in social understanding and delayed false belief o Mediated by having at least one close mutual friend o This could be bi-directional; if a child is lacking in social understanding, they may be poor at playing and thus rejected. But, if they are just rejected, they may miss out on the important experiences that develop social understanding (lecture) Child’s Characteristics: • There is little research on this, but sensitive and shy kids appear advanced in false belief understanding (5) o Children who were not aggressive and were perceptually sensitive and also took a shy and withdrawn stance in their interaction with others were advanced in social understanding later on in their preschool years (5) • Sensory Loss: o Deaf children with able-hearing parents appear delayed in their false belief understanding ▪ This doesn’t hold for deaf children with deaf parents ▪ If the parent is deaf, they are going to be fluent in sign language and thus their child is exposed to a complex language early on o Blind children show a delay in false belief understanding, some up until age 12 ▪ “this delay might be due to greater difficulty in keeping track of who has had visual access to various events, and so this might influence learning about the social and psychological consequences of such knowledge" (5) Attachment: Psyc354 – March 16/17 4 • Secure attachment is associated with earlier false belief understanding • Various forms of insecure attachment can develop when parents are not responsive or are inconsistent in their responses (6) o Not just temperament that causes this: even children that have an increased temperament can form strong attachments • Secure attachment is related to a more exploratory child o Child feels secure to explore and use the parent as a secure base, so they have more opportunities to explore their environment and develop social understanding • Attachment security at age 2 is linked to emotional understanding one year later at age 3 • Mind-mindedness: sensitive parents have a tendency attribute mental states to their child o Parents who describe their child in psychological terms tend to have a better psychological understanding of their child, and this is related to greater social understanding and false belief understanding ▪ These parents appear to have higher maternal sensitivity o Use of language by parents also appears to be a factor Implications for theories: • Myth of the desert island baby: o It seems unlikely that a child growing up alone on a desert island will not develop social understanding o Think about Genie the Wild Child • The Theory-Theory: o Idea that a child goes through different theories based on belief-desire hypothesis o Social experience would, in this theory, just provide more evidence for a child’s theories • Innate Module Theory: o Humans have evolved these neurocognitive modules that do a sort of computation, and social understanding is a natural and biological process o There is no way that experience could effect changes in social understanding • Simulation Theory: o You don’t have to have a theory of your own mind; you just need to think what you would do and apply that to other people and different situations o Experience helps • Relational-Developmental systems approach: o Development within relationships, influenced by child characteristics as well as adults’ beliefs and cultures Social interaction and language: • Correlations between children’s linguistic ability and ‘theory of mind’ o Children who are linguistically advanced are also advanced in false belief understanding • Language evidently plays a role o Ex: deaf and blind kids • Why does language matter for theory of mind? • Language as a window on development o Language reveals children’s understanding of the mind Psyc354 – March 16/17 5 o The words children use and how they use them; a child’s talk about the mind reveals t
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