23 January 2013
CHAPTER 11: DEVELOPMENT [CONT’D]
For you and me our thoughts about the world and people within it are our constant companion, and we
think about these things in a relatively automatic way. But how do processes of thought develop, and
why do we think as much as we do? This emphasizes the importance of a responsive world and linking
all this back to the issue of consciousness (IE: Crying).
Jean Piaget was a Swiss biologist. He noticed that when confronted with difficult problems, children of
the same age made precisely the same mistakes. And as they aged, they stopped making these mistakes
at precisely the same time. Cognitive Development is the emergence of the ability to think and
understand. Between infancy and adulthood, children must come to understand how the physical world
works, how their minds represent it, and how other minds represent it. Piaget suggested that cognitive
development occurs in four stages: the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete
operational stage, and the formal operational stage. He stressed the importance of operations, schemas,
and the processes of assimilation versus accommodation.
Sensorimotor Stage is a stage of development that begins at birth and lasts through infancy. Infants at
this stage use their ability to sense and their ability to move to acquire information about the world in
which they live; it is closely tied to external stimulation. By actively exploring their environments with
their eyes, mouths, and fingers, infants begin to construct schemas.
Schemas are theories about or models of the way the world works
Assimilation occurs when infants apply their schemas in novel situations. Imagine a child is in
the world learning about things; Piaget thought that while they did this, they would form
categories (IE: If an infant learns that tugging at a stuffed animal causes the toy to come closer,
then that observation is incorporated into the infant’s theory about how physical objects
behave, and the infant can later use that theory when he or she wants a different object to
come closer, such as a rattle or a ball)
Accommodation is when infants revise their schemas in light of new information (IE: Tugs the
tail of the family cat, the cat is likely to sprint in the opposite direction, disconfirming the
infant’s theory of “things come closer if I pull them”)
Object Permanence is the idea that objects continue to exist even when they are not visible.
Piaget noted that in the first few months of life, infants act as though objects stop existing the
moment they are out of sight.
Childhood is the stage of development that begins at about 18 to 24 months and lasts until adolescence,
which begins between 11 and 14 years.
Preoperational Stage is the stage of development that begins at about 2 years and ends at about 6
years, during which the child learns about physical or “concrete” objects, learning how to think logically
and how to use symbols, especially language while the child stills has an egocentric bias.
In a study where Piaget placed an egg in each cup, preoperational children were able to agree
there were just as many eggs as cups; however, when Piaget removed the eggs from the cup
and spread them out in a line that extended beyond the cups, the preoperational children
incorrectly claimed there were more eggs than cups Preoperational children cannot grasp the theory of conservation because of several tendencies
o Centration is the tendency to focus on just one property of an object to the exclusion of
all others (IE: Whereas adults can consider several properties at once, children focus on
the length of the line of eggs without simultaneously considering the amount of space
between each egg)
o Reversibility is not considering the reverse (IE: The eggs could be repositioned more
closely together, and the line would become shorter)
o Mental Representation is the ability to distinguish between the subjective and the
objective, appearances and realities, and things in the mind and things in the world. This
is the main reason. Preoperational children do not fully grasp that they have minds and
that they contain mental representations (IE: We realize that things aren’t always as
they seem, that a wagon can be red but look gray at dusk)
Concrete Operational Stage is the stage of development that begins at about 6 years and ends at about
11 years, during which the child learns how various actions or “operations” can affect or transform
those objects. It is the increased ability to perform logical operations (when concrete) and emergence of
empathy, being able to know their own name, call themselves and feel like it is a representation of who
they are and share in feelings
Concrete operational children, on the other hand, correctly reported that the number of eggs
did not change when they were spread out in a longer line.
Conservation is the notion that the quantitative properties of an object are invariant despite
changes in the object’s appearance. That quantity is a property of a set of concrete objects that
does not change when an operation such as spreading out alters the set’s appearance
Children at the concrete operational stage can solve a variety of physical problems
Formal Operational Stage is the stage of development that begins around the age of 11 and lasts
through adulthood. It is when children begin to learn how to solve nonphysical probl