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Lecture 6

PSYB20 - Lecture 6

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Marc A Fournier

Lecture 6 – Cognitive Development - Piaget  Cognition – the act of knowing; mental processes by which knowledge is acquired, elaborated, stored, retrieved and used to solve problems o Attention o Sensation and perception o Learning, thinking, remembering  Cognitive development – changes that occur in mental skills and abilities over time  Structural-functional approach (Piaget): emphasizes the biological functions and environmental influences that promote developmental changes in the organization and structure of intelligence  The information-processing approach: Focuses on the growth of specific cognitive processing mechanisms, such as perception, attention, memory and so on (all looked at individually) o Human mind is analogous to computer Piaget’s Theory  Was originally trained as a zoologist; developed strong interest in cognitive development because of work he did Alfred-Binet’s lab (intelligence test was being developed) o Binet was using specific questions to get normative data as to what age it takes children in order to get the right answer o Piaget was interested in the wrong answers: He noticed that children of the same age made the same type of errors when asked the question (errors that younger kids made were different from what older kids made)  Piaget found that children of different ages have fundamentally different thought processes; so he wanted to explore the nature of how children thought o The type of clinical interviews he’d do with children: lots of probing  Piaget developed a theory to understand the changes in intelligence  Intelligence: A basic life force that helps one (in this case children) adapt to environment o It’s a type of equilibrium towards which all cognitive structures tend o Produce balanced relation between thought processes and environment   Cognitive equilibrium  Children were thought as constructivists – actively take a role in understanding the world around them; they construct their own reality o As they get older they change the way they think  Imbalance between mode of thinking and enviro prompts child to make mental adjustment  allows child to cope with new experiences so that they can understand nature of the new experiences o This is how the child’s cognitive equilibrium is balanced  The things that children were acting on and changing = Schema (PIAGET NOT BECK)  Schema: o Cognitive structure: Pattern of thought or action o Behavioural(sensorimotor) schemas: organized pattern of behaviour used to represent objects of experience  First psychological structures to appear  E.g., 9-month old doesn’t think of a ball as a formally named object but rather by what they do with it o Symbolic Schemas: ability to think about objects/events without actually having them present (mental representations of things in the world)  Child can represent behaviour now o Operational Schemas: cognitive operations applied to objects/events  Children can now have mental activities they can do instead of doing things physically (e.g., 5 year old says that flattened clay has more clay than ball of clay, but the 8 year old can reverse the operation and tell you that it’s the same)  Allows child to think about events; ready for formal training/education How do Schema change?  Organization o Combine existing schemas into new schema o Produces more complex intellectual structures  Adaptation o Children are constantly facing novel events so they have to have a means for modifying the nature of their schemas, not simply organizing anymore o Two complementary processes: Assimilation and Accommodation o Assimilation: the process by which children attempt to interpret new experiences in relation to previous experiences;(fit new info with existing schemas)  i.e., child thinks all 4-legged animals = dogs o Accommodation: The process by which children modify their existing cognitive structures to account for new experiences (existing schemas undergo change)  i.e., child sees horse, must change 4-legged schemas to accommodate horse too  Accomodation and assimilation always occur together at the same time  The end result of adaptation (assim and accom) is cognitive equilibrium Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development  Qualitative movement through stages  Properties of stage theories: stages occur in Invariant developmental sequence and hierarchical relations among stages  Invariant developmental sequence: constant unchanging order, no skipping of stages, indicates strong maturational component o You don’t know when the stages occur o Enviro can change when you go through the stages, but the stages are biologically ingrained in you (because the order is fixed)  Hierarchical relations among stages: structures of earlier stages don’t get lost as you move up stages but rather those skills get incorporated into achievements of later stages o i.e., i.e., sensorimotor map of getting around as toddler, when toddler get’s older this map isn’t lost but instead it’s built upon (earlier ability is not lost) Stage 1: Period of Sensorimotor Intelligence (contains substages)  Stage 1: The use of reflexes (0-1 mo)  Stage 2: Primary circular reactions (1-4 mo)  Stage 3: Secondary circular reactions (4-8mo)  Stage 4: Coordination of secondary schemas (8-12mo)  intentionality comes in now  Stage 5: Tertiary circular reactions (12-18mo)  Stage 6: Intervention of new means through mental combinations (18-24mo)  Specific abilities that develop during this period (2):  1. Development of intentional behaviour (at substage 4): combining schemas into new complex ones to engage in intentional/goal-directed behaviour o Piaget’s object hiding task: infants at this stage remove cover and retrieve toy (younger infants think it’s gone) This is a means-end sequence because the child is doing something with an intentional means to reach an end  foundation for all problem solving o Object permanence: the child understands that objects still exist even if they can’t see them  (prior to this stage  out of sight out of mind; child doesn’t think object exists anymore) o The A-not-B error: take a toy and hide the toy in the A location many times then child can reach out and get it (they developed object permanence). Now take the toy and put it in location B, but now the child can’t recover the toy, they go to A.  This occurs because the child doesn’t have a complete independent object representation at this age, yet they have object permanence.  2. The development of mental representations: internal representation that the mind can act upon (we can use mental images to imitate, retrace our steps etc...); child becomes more efficient thinker o Hidden displacements: take an object, put it in location A, hide object in one cup and move it to location B; manipulation in brain allows child to figure out that it’s in the cup that you moved (rather than looking at ever cup there) o Imitation and deferred imitation: at 8-12mo the child intentionally imitate behaviour when the model is not present  By the end of this sensorimotor stage, children arrive at solutions in a dramatic/sudden fashion rather than trial&error (this is because they can now act upon their mental representations and do trial&error in mind rather than physically) Stage 2: Preoperational period  Spans ~ 2-7 years  Obvious change: increase in representational ability o Major Increase in symbolic activity that children are able to undergo  Symbolic function and pretend play – the ability to make one thing stand for (represent) something else o development of language = classic form of symbolic functions (words stand for objects) o children engage in pretend play (superhero, make-believe)  Piaget found that preoperational children have more rigid thinking; they don't undergo operational thinking o They focus only on one aspect of a situation, mainly the appearance, but they didn’t focus on how it was in fact;  Egocentrism – children are unable o take the viewpoint of another person o an error in preoperational thought o put the doll at one angle of the mountain, asked child to say what the doll saw but the child only said what they saw, not the doll’s view o the child doesn’t understand another child’s feelings thus lack empathy  Animism – tendency of children to attribute life-like characteristics to inanimate objects o i.e., why does the sun go down? Because the sun is tired  Conservation tasks – certain characteristics of physical objects remain the same even when their outward appearances change (child doesn’t have the idea of conservation of number) o i.e., same amount of water but in two glasses then pour one glass’s contents into a flatter glass right infront of the child and the child says that the taller glass has more water in it (this is how kids focus on appearance)  children fail conservation tasks because they don't have the mental operation of reverse ability (can’t mentally reverse the action that has occurred)  children also have the problem of centration where they focus on a single aspect of the task while igno
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