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Why study developmental psych?
Ancient viewpoint:
Ancient Roman-children are not beings
Christian-raises the moral stance but still different
Current conception: Fundamentally different from us, simpler, therefore relevant for
studies in cognition
Stages of learning
Qualitative differences in learning
Why study developmental psych?
1. by studying how dominant changes find important, otherwise hidden, properties,
periods of rapid change, study of qualitative in something as complex as human
2. often we can help unify our explanations and science wants unified explanation
because they are more powerful. But often we can unify our explanations of
differences in current behavior by tracing things back to a common origin. However
we must be aware of what fallacygenetic fallacy. Although we should make use of
this attempt to generate unified explanation by tracing to a common origin, beware of
the fallacy.
3. science uses idealization. Science is caught in the forever problem of balancing
ecological or external validity with experimental precision. Theres no perfect way of
solving that problem. Thats why interpretations and argumentations are
irremovable from science.
With children, we have a unique opportunity: they are super like us, but they are
real, and they are real causes of us. They are an actually existing, causally relevant
simplification. They are not perfect but having them as basis of studying our own
cognition is extremely helpful.
4. scientists study the world not just to represent it, but to intervene in it.
Intervening in early years can intervene more powerfully
5. the inherent interest of the subject matter. Children are thought provoking. As we
begin to see how sophisticated their cognition is, we begin to understand our own
Philosophical frameworks (different interpretative positions people take on hwat is
human psychology?Human nature? Hows it developed? What did people emphasize,
neglect? )
How are the 4 psychological framework generated?
Framework of John Locke (1632-1704)
Supports Enlightenment-what matter most was the rational production of
knowledge, science is the best way of doing this, we could use science to transform
John Locke proposes:
-childrens cognition operate according to the exact same principle as animal
cognition, the only difference is quantityquantitative difference
-Development = learning. Learning was absolute, and that the mind is a tabula rasa
(blank slate). This is a form of empiricism or environmentalism: all development is
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triggered by learning from the environment. Problem: as Plato had said, cant really
start from a blank slate (if you dont have any knowledge of P, how would you
recognize it?) Even locke admits that cant start completely from scratch and
borrowed idea of principles of association from Aristotle, who thought we start with
innate principles of making knowledge and organizing info, in contrast to Platos
view that we start with many innate knowledge. Principles of association: similarity,
contrast, contiguity, and frequency.
Problems with development is learning, and learning is driven by purely by
1.Problem of relevance: How do we define similarity? Similarity doesnt exist in the
world like mass/electric molecules. How do we intelligently zoom in to the
relevant similarity and intelligently ignore the irrelevant ones? If locke cant
explain how we find pieces of info relevant to each other or how he can generate
propositions with logical structure so that he can distinguish different facts, he
cant explain a lot of human cognition.
2.Problems with frequency and contiguity. Behaviourists-prime inheritor of Lockes
Framework 2-Nativism?
Typified by John __ Russell( 1712-1778, French):
-critical of Enlightenment (while Locke is the hero of it): what matters most is
science, it can transform society, improve human conditions to the applications of
secular reasons; increasing secularization driven by the success of sciences
-father of French romanticism. Romanticism: the idea that enlightenment
concentrates too much on knowledge without acknowledging whats more imp in
driving human: emotion, will. Why? B/c Human beings interested in meanings, not
just in the production of knowledge. Romanticism is an originally rational proposal:
human are not knowledge generator, they are meaning creators.
-should pay attention to humans innate ability to make meaning, curiosity
-Locke: how environment shed lights on us. Russell: how we impose on the world, how
we make sense
-emphasize a form of nativism: its not how things accumulate in tabula rasa, its how
human impose will on world
-this idea that human impose order in env. is a recurring theme in human psych
-Russell: all development is innate. We have innate timetables on how we are going to
make meaning, impose the mind on reality (eg. Dont need to be taught how to walk,
kids come to about the same level of competence)
- Almost opposite to Locke. Locke: dvp = leaning, Russel: development = (biological)
maturation; you have a timetable, and you just move through the stages, but not one
stage causing another. Locke: given them more info, R: give them an environment
that draws their natural abilities
-problem with R: 1. Said God put the innate abilities therenot a sufficient
explanation 2. Evolution can only work on a long-term problem that can make a
difference to our reproductive success. Yet many of our innate abilities/a lot of our
development cant be explained by this (eg. Ability to live in the city). Evolution is not
sophisticated enough. 3. Overemphasizing the biological in expense of cultural is
overly simplistic (eg. Everybody prewired to learn language, but is everyone prewired
for English?no, its a cultural phenomena. Customs, language do influence your
(German) Von Herter (1784-1803)
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