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Lecture 9

PSY210H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Logical Truth, Distributed Cognition, Broccoli

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March 21, 2011
Cognitive Development The Piagetian Approach
Two related themes that Piaget deals with:
o Progressive decentring
Progressive reduction in egocentrism
Don’t confuse egocentrism with egotism!
Egocentrism is only being able to see things from your
point of view the way you see things is the way they
Children become more and more capable of
distinguishing between self and world
Increasing ability to discover invariance
o Discovery and use of invariance
Ex: number is invariant “three” occurs across
Start to see the world as independent from them
Intermodal integration affords improvement of
invariance world separate from child affords them to
look for more marks of an independent world
discovery of invariance reduction in egocentrism
search for more invariance
Suggested confound in Piaget’s work
o Tasks are very complex perhaps kids are failing the tasks not
because they lack the abilities, but because the tests are too
o Pillow situation these kids are focusing on just learning how
to move around! Moving between the pillows consumes all
their mental resources
o Perhaps tests are not revealing a lack of ability, but masking
the ability
o Kids might have more competence than we know, but we are
using the wrong performance tasks to asses competence
o Tempting to use much simpler task to assess complex task of
object permanence, but, if they are successful in this task,
perhaps they don’t actually have the sophisticated competence
you’re testing for but a much simpler competence that is
sufficient for the simple task
o Quite a paradox THERE IS NO PERFECT TEST
o Do different tests to make various interpretations
How do we assess what’s going on in kids’ minds when they can’t talk?
It’s hard enough figuring out adult minds!
o Use the idea of habituation stimulus becomes less salient the
longer it is present
o Determine if kids are treating stimuli as the same or different
o Habituate child to A stimulus, then show child B stimulus if it
doesn’t react, it sees A and B as the same. If child reacts to B, it
obviously knows that B is different. This is a way to determine
how child identifies things
o Doesn’t require child to initiate any behaviour, little demand
on the child all they have to do is look at stuff
Baillargeon 1987 (a)
o Child and screen with box behind it
o Possible situation or event screen stops and hides box
o Impossible event screen goes all the way down and a trap
door in the floor eats the box
o If the kids are really startled when the screen stops on the box,
they have no object permanence because they don’t realize the
box is stopping the screen
o If the kids are really startled when the screen flattens all the
way, this suggests they have object permanence because they
realize the box should be stopping the screen
o 4.5 month olds showed surprise for the impossible event! This
is much earlier than Piaget says they should have object
o vision hardly works at this point! Perhaps there is an
alternative explanation for these results
o just a visual task maybe the block is just in short term
memory visual confusion of two images interfering causes
surprise doesn’t indicate any sophisticated ability
o counter argument could be perceptual confusion
Baillargeon 1987 (b)
o Replaces box with easily compressible ball of gauze
o Kids with object permanence won’t be surprised when screen
flattens all the way because object is squishy
o Kids without object permanence will be surprised because of
perceptual confusion
o What were findings? 4.5 month olds were not surprised when
screen fell all the way down
o Indicates that kids have something like object permanence
o Also evidence for intermodality tactile squishiness combine
with vision
o Moving cars on track with block in the way
Possible event car stops at block
Impossible event car travels through
Child show surprise at impossible event
This example doesn’t have the screen potentially
causing visual confusion
Evidence is getting greater and greater for object
permanence at 4.5 months
o But infants’ ability is limited – we shouldn’t assume full object
o If a little car is on one side and a big car comes out the other
side, that doesn’t startle them
o Suggests a much less definitive representation of an object not
currently being perceived representation of SOMETHING
behind the screen much more like a mental pointer than a
name calling this object permanence would be too strong
o Not so surprising that they have this ability we as adults also
have “demonstrative reference” – using words like “this” or
“that” to refer to things – basically a placeholder
o We need this ability in order to name things we need to be
able to gather “this” “this” and “this” together before we can
group it together and name it
Pylyshyn experiment Multiple Object Tracking
o Screen filled with objects, 8 of them are moving, the rest are
stationary. The more objects you have to track moving, the less
definitive the representation becomes. Experimenter can
change shape, size, or colour of objects and it becomes less
likely you will notice
o Pylyshyn calls this FINSTing Fingers of Instantiation brain
puts a mental finger on things without knowing exactly what
they are
Piaget is partially wrong: these abilities develop gradually, takes a
year to develop, children come with innate tracking abilities, allows
them to track the world and build up object permanence (top-down
and bottom-up rather than Piaget’s solely bottom-up approach)
o Top-down is innate/biological, bottom up is environmental
You have to be able to point at the world before you can name it, and
this FINSTing ability slowly develops into object permanence
Evidence for sophisticated cognitive competence before physical
sensory motor competence contrary to what Piaget suggests
Cognitive ability can’t be just derived from sensory motor
competence/interactions with the world as Piaget suggests 4.5
month olds can’t really interact with the environment in a sensory
Sensorimotor period ends here, but it’s not really right to call it just
the sensorimotor period
Next huge stage is pre-operational stage, 2-6 years
o Representational ability mastered