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Chapter 4

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PSY 302
Alba Agostino

Chapter 4 GENERAL: - Piaget’s theory: removing object from young infants sight should lead to infant to act as if the object never existed - 3 Advantages of knowing about Developmental Theories: - Provide Framework for understanding important phenomena  Infants below the age of 8 months of age react to the disappearance of an object as though they do not understand that the object still exists  Theories place particular experiences and observation in a larger context + deepen understanding of their meaning - Raise crucial questions about human nature  Piaget: before the age of 8 months, infants do not realize that hidden objects stills exist  Other researchers: 8 months age CAN understand hidden objects but lack memory or problem-solving skills - Better understanding of children  Munakata (1997) • Is 7 months failure to reach for hidden objects due to lacking the motivation or the reaching skill to retrieve them? o Perform the object-permanence experiment like piaget but with a transparent cover rather than the opaque one • Support piagets: motivated + Skilled to do it.  Diamond (1985) • Used opaque covering, varied the amount of time between when the toy was hidden and when the infant was allowed to reach for it. o 6 M old could locate the toy if allowed to reach immediately o 7 M could wait as long as 2 seconds and still succeed • memory + understanding objects continue to exist is crucial to success on the task - No single ONE theory: - Cognitive—growth of such diverse capabilities: perception, attention, language, problem solving, reasoning, memory, conceptual understanding, and intelligence - Social—growth of equally diverse: emotions, personality, relationships with peers and family members, self-understanding, aggression, and - 5 Theoretical Perspective: 1. Piagetian Perspective—theme: continuity/ discontinuity, active child 2. Information-processing perspective—theme: mechanisms of change 3. Core-knowledge perspective—theme: continuity/ discontinuity 4. Sociocultural perspective—theme: influence of sociocultural context, mechanisms of change 5. Dynamic-systems perspective—theme: active child, mechanisms of change PIAGET’S THEORY: - Focus: cognitive development - Piaget theory—longevity: - Observations and description of children conveys the flavor of their thinking at different ages - The Exceptional breadth of the theory  extend from first day of infancy through adolescence  examines topics as diverse as conceptualization of time, space, distance, number; language use; memory; understanding of other peoples perspective; problem solving; and scientific reasoning - Offers an intuitively plausible depiction of the interaction of nature and nurture in cognitive development + of continuities and discontinuities that characterize intellectual growth. - View of Children’s Nature: - Children shape their own development - Assumption # 1: Piaget assumed that from birth onward, children are active mentally + physically, and that their activity greatly contributes to their own development.  Constructivist: children constructing knowledge for themselves in response to their experiences. • Constructive process: “Child as scientist” 1. Generating hypotheses 2. Performing experiments 3. Drawing conclusions from observations - Assumption #2: Children learn many important lessons on their own, rather than depending on instructions from adults or older children. - Assumption #3: Children are intrinsically motivated to learn and do not need rewards from adults to do so. - Central Developmental Issues - NATURE AND NURTURE - Nature + nurture produce cognitive development - Nurture is not just the care provided from parents and caregivers but also every experience the child encounters - Nature includes: child’s maturing brain + body, ability to perceive, act and learn from experience; child’s motivation to meet tow basic functions that are central to cognitive growth: adaptation and organization - Adaption— tendency to respond to demands of the environment in ways that meet one’s goals - Organization—tendency to integrate particular observations into coherent knowledge - Sources of Continuity: - 3 mains sources: 1. Assimilation—people incorporate incoming information into concepts that they already understand (making association) - Boy sees man with bald head and long curly side hair—call him clown 2. Accommodation—people adapt their current understandings in response to new experiences (new information delivered) - Father tells child that it is not a clown, even though hair looked like clown, he was not wearing a funny costume and was not doing silly things. With this new information, boy was able to accommodate his clown concept to the standard one and allowing the man to pass in peace. 3. Equilibration—people balance assimilation and accommodation to create stable understanding. - 3 phases: 1. Equilibrium: children are satisfied with their understand of a phenomenon—do not see any discrepancies between their observations and their understanding of the phenomenon 2. Disequilibrium: new information leads children to perceive that their understand is inadequate— children recognize shortcomings in their understanding of the phenomenon but cannot generate a superior alternative 3. Stable equilibrium: children develop a more sophisticated understanding that eliminates the shortcomings of the old one—broader range of observations can be understood. - Sources of Discontinuity o are distinct stages of cognitive development • Stages are products of basic human tendency to organize knowledge into coherent structures o Each stage represent coherent way of understanding ones experience o Transition between stages represent a discontinuous intellectual leap from one coherent way of understanding to the next, higher one. - Central properties of Paget’s stage theory: 1. Qualitative Change—children of different ages think in qualitatively different ways. • Children in early stages of cognitive development conceive of morality in terms of the consequences of a persons behavior • Children in later years conceive of it in terms of the persons intent 2. Broad Applicability—type of thinking characteristic of each stage influences children’s thinking across diverse topics and contexts. 3. Brief Transition—before entering new stage, pass through a transitional period in which they fluctuate between type of thinking characteristic of the new, more advanced stage and the type of thinking characteristics of the old, less advanced one. 4. Invariant sequence—everyone progresses through the stages in the same order and never skips a stage. • 4 stages: 1. Sensorimotor Stage • Birth to age 2 • Intelligence develops and is expressed through sensory and motor abilities o Used to perceive and explore world, gaining information about objects and people in it and constructing rudimentary forms of fundamental concepts: time, space and causality • Live in here and now—intelligence bound to immediate perceptions and actions 2. Preoperational Stage • age 2 to 7 (toddlers and preschoolers) • able to represent experiences in language and mental imagery o improve memory + form more sophisticated concepts • unable to perform mental operations—forms of reasoning that are part of an organized system of mental activities. o Unable to form certain ideas o Example: Water pouring into another glass of different shape but same water volume 3. Concrete Operational Stage • age 7 to 12 • reason logically about concrete objects and events (pouring water in glass of different shape but same volume of water) • have difficulty thinking in purely abstract terms and in generating scientific experiments to test their beliefs. 4. Final Operational Stage • Age 12 + • Think deeply about concrete events + abstractions and purely hypothetical situations • Perform scientific experiments + draw appropriate conclusions from them, even when conclusions differ from their prior beliefs Sensorimotor Stage: • Age birth to 2 • Roots of adult intelligence are present in infants earliest behavior: sucking, flailing and grasping o Reflect early type of intelligence involving sensory, motor activity o Active child—sensorimotor intelligence • General principle: children’s thinking grows especially rapidly in the first few years o Reflexes—essential tool for building intelligence  See something moving in front of eyes—track it down  Place object in mouth—suck them  Objects come in contact with hands—grasp them  Hear noise—turn head towards them o Modify reflexes to make them more adaptive  Infants accommodate their actions o the parts of the environment with which they interact  Organize separate reflexes into larger behaviors—perform more complex activity • Through the age of 8 months, infants lack object permanence—knowledge that objects continue to exist even when they are out of view o “out of sight, out of mind” o able to mentally represent only objects that they can perceive at the moment o End of first year, children can search for hidden objects—indicating they mentally represent the objects continuing existence even when they no longer see them. o A not B error:  8- 12 month olds have reached for and found hidden object several times in one place (location A), when they see the object hidden at a different place (location B) and are prevented from immediately searching for it, they tend to reach where they initially found the object. • By age 1, infants begin to actively explore the potential ways in which objects can be used—“child as scientist” • In last half year of sensorimotor stage (age 18-24 M), children form enduring mental representations o deferred imitation—repetition of other peoples behavior minutes, hours or even days after it occurred.  Girl had a boy come over to play, he got a really terrible temper. The next day, girl did the same even when boy was not present. • Trends: 1. First, infant’s activities center on their own bodies; later, activities include the world around them. 2. Early goals are concrete (shake rattle and listen to sounds it makes); later goals are abstract (varying the heights from which objects are dropped and observing how the effects vary.) 3. Infants become increasingly able to form mental representations move away from the “out of sight, out of mind” ideal. Preoperational Stage (2-7 Years) • Development of symbolic representations, egocentrism and centration • Symbolic representation (3-5 Y): o The use of one object to stand for another o As children develop, reply less on self-generated symbols and more on conventional ones  5 year old play game of pirates. Wear path over eye and use bandana over their head because that is the way pirates are commonly depicted. • Egocentrism: o Perceiving the world solely from one’s own point of view • Centration: o Focusing on a single, perceptually striking feature of an object or event to the exclusion of other relevant but less striking features o Balance example:  5-6 Y only focus on weight, ignore the distance of the weights from the fulcrum o Conservation concept:  The idea that merely changing the appearance of objects does not change their key properties  Water in cup of different form: • 4-5 year olds said NO different amount of water when really equal amounts of water The concrete Operations Stage (7-12 Age) • begin to reason logically about concrete features of the world o example: although 4-5 year olds unable to solve the conservation concept, 7 year old are able to. • Able to solve problems that require attention to multiple dimensions o Example: balance problem—able to consider BOTH weight and distance away from fulcrum • Thinking is systematic and remains difficult, as does reasoning about hypothetical situations o Example: pendulum problem  Children have difficulty on how they test their beliefs as no clear conclusion can be drawn from it.  Have limited ability to think systematically or to imagine ALL possible combinations of variables • What about the length of the string? Height from which the string was dropped? Is it just weight that reflects how fast it will go? Formal Operations (Age 12 +) • Think abstractly and reason hypothetically (“pinnacle of the Piagetian Stage Profession). o Example: pendulum problem  See that any of the variables—weight, string length, and dropping point might influence the time it takes for pendulum to swing through an arc, and that it therefore is necessary to test the effect of each variable systematically • NOT UNVIERSAL!! –not all adolescents reach it Piaget’s Legacy: - strength: o provide good overview, with countless observations of what children’s thinking is like at different points in the development o offer a plausible and appealing perspective on children’s nature o surveys broad spectrum of development and covers the entire age span from infancy through adolescence - Weakness: o Stage model depicts children’s thinking as being more consistent than it is  Children thinking is variable!! • Most children succed on conservation-of-number problems by age 6, whereas most do not succeed until age 8-9 o Infants and young children are more cognitively competent than Piaget recognized  Tests were difficult—miss infants and young children earliest knowledge of these concepts • Object permanence - Piaget: “out of sight, out of mind” until age 8-9 - Other tests: early as 3 M show evidence of having some knowledge of existence of object o Piaget’s theory understates the contribution of social world to CD  A child’s cognitive development reflects the contribution of other people, as well as the broader culture, and NOT just the child’s own effort to understand the world. o Piaget’s theory is vague about the Cognitive processes that give rise to children’s thinking and about the mechanisms that produce cognitive growth  Does not emphasis the processes that lead children to think in a particular way and that produce changes in their thinking  Assimilation, accommodation, equilibration—have general air of plausibility, how they operate is far from clear. Information-Processing THEORY: - emphasize precise characterizations of the processes that give rise to children’s thinking and the mechanisms that produce cognitive growth - Characteristics: 1. Precise specification of the processes involved in children’s thinking ⇒ Task analysis: identification of goals, relevant information in the environment, and potential processing strategies 2. Emphasis on thinking as an activity that occurs over time, with numerous distinct mental operations underlying a single behavior ⇒ Generating a sequence of sub goals, inferences, relevant facts, one after another, in planning how to reach the overall goal. 3. Emphasis on structure and process ⇒ Structure: basic organization of cognitive system, including the main components of the system and their characteristics ⇒ Process: vast number of specific mental activities, such as the use of rules and strategies, that people devise to aid memory and solve problems View of Children’s Nature: - see children’s cognitive growth as occurring constantly, in small increments, rather than broadly and abruptly o different from Piagets: children progress through qualitatively distinct, broadly applicable stages, separated only by relatively brief transition periods - Children as limited-capacity processing system: o Computer:  Limited by its hardware and by its software • Hardware—memory + efficiency in executing basic operations • Software—strategies and information that are available for particular task o People:  Limited—memory capacity, efficiency of thought process, availability of useful strategies and knowledge - Children gradually surmount their processing limitations through: 1. Expansion of the amount of the amount of information they can process at one time 2. Increasingly efficient execution of basic processes 3. Acquisition of new strategies and knowledge - The Child as Problem Solver: - Problem solving: involves a goal, a perceived obstacle, and a strategy or role for overcoming the obstacle and attaining the goal o “goal-obstacle-strategy” o **Children’s cognitive flexibility helps them pursue their goals Central Development Issues: - nature AND nurture WORK TOGETHER to produce development - HOW changes occur - Development of Memory o 3 memory structures: 1. Sensory Memory: fleeting retention of sight, sounds and other sensations that have just been experDiffer in: Moves from raw working memory OR raw—> lost. ⇒ Holds information for a fraction of a second Length of time they retain information ⇒ Visual cortex ­ How much information they ⇒ Auditory cortex can store ­ The neural mechanism
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