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Chapter Six.docx

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Psychology 2040A/B
Jackie Sullivan

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Chapter Six: Cognitive Development: Piagetian, Core Knowledge & Vygotskian Perspectives Piaget’s Cognitive-Developmental Theory - According to Piaget, human infants do not start out as cognitive beings, instead out of their perceptual & motor activities, they build & refine psychological structures – organized ways of making sense of experience that permit them to adapt more effectively in the environment - Because Piaget viewed children as discovering, or constructing, virtually all knowledge about their world through their own activity, his theory is the constructivist approach to cognitive development Basic Characteristics of Piaget’s Stages - Believed that children moved through 4 stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational & formal operational, where they changed behaviours - Stage sequence has 3 important features: o Stages provide a general theory of development o The stages are invariant (occur in fixed order) o The stages are universal - Piaget regarded the order as biological but that the individual differences were guided by genetics & environment Piaget’s Ideas About Cognitive Change - Piaget thought that specific psychological structures, schemas – organized ways of making sense of experience – changed with age - The transition from sensorimotor approach to the world to the cognitive approach is based on mental representation – internal depictions of information that the mind can manipulate (most powerful ones are images – mental pictures of objects, etc. & concepts – where similar objects are grouped) - In Piaget’s theory, 2 processes account for this change from sensorimotor to representational schemes & for further changes in representation schemes from childhood to adulthood: adaptation & organization Adaptation - Involves building schemes through direct interaction with the environment - Consists of 2 complementary activities: o Assimilation  During this we use our current schemes to interpret the external world o Accommodation  We create new schemes or adjust old ones after noticing that our current way of thinking does not capture the environment completely o The balance between assimilation & accommodation varies with age, when equal, one gets cognitive equilibrium and during change with accommodation is high, it is disequilibrium, this back & forth process is called equilibration Organization - A process that occurs internally, apart from direct contact with the environment; once children form new schemes, they rearrange them, linking them with other schemes to create a strongly interconnected cognitive system The Sensorimotor Stage: Birth to 2 Years - Spans the first 2 years; infants think with their eyes, ears, hands and cannot carry out activities mentally - Divided into 6 Stages (in order when they are developed – go up 4 months each stage) o Reflexive Schemes  Newborn reflexes o Primary Circular Reactions  Simple motor habits, poor anticipation of events o Secondary Circular Reactions  Actions aimed at repeating interesting effects in the surrounding world, imitation of familiar behaviours o Coordination of secondary circular reactions  Intentional, goal-directed behaviour, ability to find hidden object in the first location it is hidden (object permanence), improved anticipation of events; imitation of behaviours slightly different from those the infant usually performs o Tertiary Circular Reactions  Exploration of objects by acting on them in novel ways, imitation of new behaviours, ability to search for hidden objects in several locations o Mental Representation  Internal depiction of objects & events, solutions to problems, ability to find an object that has been moved while out of sight (invisible displacement), deferred imitation & make-believe play - The circular reaction provides a special means of adapting their first schemes, it involves stumbling onto a new experience caused by baby’s own motor activity; the reaction is “circular” because as the infant tries to repeat the event again & again, a sensorimotor response that originally occurred by chance strengthens into a new scheme Sensorimotor Development Repeating Chance Behaviours - Repeat them & get better & continue to move through the stages as they come upon more behaviours Intentional Behaviour - Coordinating schemes deliberately to solve simple problems - Ex. When Piaget hides a object under the covers; the infant uses the “push” schema & the “grasp” schema to get the object, this is means-end action sequences - Retrieving hidden objects is evidence that the infants have begun to master object permanence, the understanding that objects continue to exist when they are out of sight; but this awareness is not complete yet; babies still make the A- not-B search error – if they reach several times for an object at one hiding place (A), then see it is moved to another (B), they still search for it in the first hiding place Mental Representation - In the substage 6, allows for invisible displacement and deferred imitation which is the ability to remember & copy the behaviour of models who are not present - Also makes make-believe play possible, in which children act out everyday & imaginary activities Follow-Up Research on Infant Cognitive Development - Researchers use the violation-of-expectation method to discover what infants know about hidden objects & other aspects of physical reality o They may habituate babies to a physical event (expose them to the event until their looking declines) to familiarize them with a situation in which their knowledge will be tested; or they may simply show babies an expected event (one that follows physical laws) & an unexpected event (a variation of the first event that violates physical laws); heightened attention to the unexpected event suggests that the infant is “surprised” by a deviation from physical reality - & thus, is aware of aspects of the physical world o This method is controversial Object Permanence - Using the method above, found evidence of this - Babies were given an expected event & an unexpected event – the infants looked longer at the unexpected event - Behaviour suggests awareness of the object persists even when it disappears - Also when the object disappears, temporal lobe activity fires, which is involved in mental representation (viewing the ball going somewhere when it is not visible) - Go through stages, first think the object has disappeared but has gone somewhere, then they attempt to look for it later on, then they can attempt to look for it in more than one location Searching for Objects Hidden in More Than One Location - Some evidence suggest that 8-12 month olds search at A instead of B because they have trouble inhibiting a previously rewarded motor response (thus, the more reaches in A, the more likely they will look there again) - Another view is that after looking and finding the object at A, the babies do not attend closely when it is hidden at B - A more comprehensive explanation is that a complex system of factors – having built a habit of reaching toward A & continuing to look there & maintaining a constant body posture and by disrupting any of these factors increases the chances of them looking at B - Overall, mastery of object permanence is a gradual achievement Mental Representation - Deferred & Inferred Imitation: o Deferred imitation is present at 6 weeks & are accompanied by changes in the brain-wave activity during memory tasks; there ability to recall modeled behaviours in the order they occurred strengthens from 6 months to 2 years o Toddlers also imitate rationally by inferring others’ intentions; toddlers like to imitate adults & sometimes do it more effectively, they like to represent others’ intentions by engaging in goal-directed actions - Categorization: o Young infants can categorize, grouping similar objects & events into a single representation o Categorization reduces the enormous about of info a child receives to help them learn & remember o Can by 6 months (shapes & colours) o Habituation has also been shown in infant categorization, get bored if see the same category but if see a new category, their attention is back o Categorization get stronger as they experience more (ex. Real animal vs. fake animal distinctions, at first will offer any dog water, but then later will only offer real dogs water) o Categorize first by Perceptual (features) to Fundamental (functions) to Conceptual o Variations among languages lead to cultural differences in development of categories - Problem-Solving o 7-8 months can develop mean-end action sequences, used to solve simple problems o 10-12 months engage in Analogical P-S: applying a solution strategy from one problem to other relevant problems - Symbolic Understanding o One advantage in early development is the realization that words can be used to cue mental images of things st not physically present – a symbolic capacity called displaced reference that emerges around the 1 birthday o Infants & toddlers can identify things with names, might not be able to speak but can fetch the item o Pictures are considered symbolic (have more trouble with pictures) but an object is considered more symbolic to children Evaluation of Sensorimotor Stage - Milestone (pg. 238) - Piaget was right for the timeframe of most characteristics but not for secondary circular reactions, first sign of object permanence, deferred imitation, categorization, problem solving by analogy & displaced reference of words (all of these developed earlier than Piaget expected) - These findings show that the cognitive attainments of infancy & toddlerhood do not develop together in a neat, stepwise fashion like Piaget predicted The Preoperational Stage: 2-7 Years - Spans 2-7 years, the most obvious change is an extraordinary increase in representational or symbol activity Advances in Mental Representation - Language is the most flexible means of mental representation o But Piaget did not regard language as the primary ingredient in childhood cognitive change o Believed that child’s first words have a strong sensorimotor basis, usually referring to objects or people Make-Believe Play - Is an excellent examples of representation development in early childhood - Development of Make-Believe Play: o Play detaches from real-life conditions associated with it (using a banana as a phone- coping parents) o Play then becomes self-centered (children pretend to feed only themselves then eventually detach & feed dolls or other objects) o Play includes more complex combinations of schemes (pretends to drink from a cup but does not yet combine pouring & drinking, but later combine pretend schemes with those of peers in sociodramatic play, the make-believe with others (end of age 2) o Children as young as 2 display awareness that make-believe is a representational activity (they can distinguish from real & imaginary) - Benefits of Make-Believe: o Contributes to cognitive & social skills (more interactions, more cooperative & strengthens cognitive abilities like memory, attention, imagination, language, creativity, etc.) o 25-45% even make-up imaginary playmates (imaginary companions) – which is not a bad thing Drawings - Begin with scribbles, due to imitation of others, then marks take on meaning o Scribbles o First representational forms o More realistic drawings - Cultural Variations in Development of Drawing: o In cultures with rich artistic traditions, children create more elaborate drawings that reflect their culture o In cultures with little interest in art, only simple forms are produced, even by older kids Symbol-Real-World Relations - To make-believe or draw, children must understand that each symbol corresponds to something specific - Kids have trouble with dual representation – viewing a symbolic object both as an object in its own right & a symbol – till the age of 3, they can understand this representation if adults point out similarities between the 2 objects - Exposing young children to diverse symbols (pictures books, photos, drawings) helps them appreciate that one object can stand for another - With age, children come to understand a wide range of symbols that have little physical similarity to what they represent Limitations of Preoperational Thought - According to Piaget, young children are not capable of operation – mental representation of actions that obey logical rules; rather that their thinking is rigid & limited to one aspect of a situation at a time Egocentric & Animistic Thinking - One of his limitations is egocentrism – failure to distinguish others’ symbolic viewpoints from one’s own, he believed that children see things from their point of view & think everyone sees the same thing - His convincing demonstration was the three-mountains problem - He also regarded egocentrism responsible for children’s animistic thinking – the belief that inanimate ojbects have lifelike qualities (like feelings) - He also argued that egocentric basis prevents children from accommodating or reflecting on their reasoning Inability to Conserve - Another deficiency is conservation – refers to the idea that certain physical characteristics of objects remain the same, even when their outward appearance changes o Ex. Water test with same glasses then one different glass (same amount of water, but views it differently) - Their understanding is centered (centration) – they focus on one aspect of a situation, neglecting other important features (for the glass, the kid centers on the height of the liquid), and the child is easily distracted by the perceptual appearance of it, ignoring the dynamic transformation - The most important illogical feature of preoperational though is irreversibility – reversibility is the ability to go through a series of steps in a problem & then mentally reverse direction, returning to the starting point (the kid can’t imagine the water being poured back into the other cup) Lack of Hierarchical Classification - Children have difficult with hierarchical classification – the organization of objects into classes & subclasses on the basis of similarities & differences Follow-Up Research on Preoperational Thought Egocentric, Animistic & Magical Thinking - Egocentric (handing something to someone from their point of view- at 24 months) & non-egocentric (adjusting your speech to fit others) responses seem to appear in children’s conversations o Later on Piaget said egocentric was a tendency, not an inability - Piaget also overestimates animistic beliefs (toddlers can distinguish between animate & inanimate things – ex don’t feed robots) - Preschoolers think that magic accounts for things they cannot explain & believe in supernatural creatures Logical Thought - Studies show that when preschoolers are given tasks that are simplified & relevant, they do not display illogical characteristics which Piaget said they did - And they can engage in reasoning by analogy about physical changes Categorization - Despite difficulty with Piagetian class inclusion tasks, preschoolers organize their knowledge into categories at an
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