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Chapter 16

Chapter 16 developmental

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PSYC 2450
Jennifer Mc Taggart

Chapter #16: Cognitive Development in Adolescence Nelson Mandela, Freedom Fighter - Toppled South Africa‟s rigid system of radical separation and subjugation - First black present in 1994, 4 years after being released from 28 years of jail for conspiring to overthrow the white dominated government - Envisioned a society “in which no one would be held in slavery or servitude, and in which poverty, want and insecurity shall be no more” - In adolescence he observed tribal meetings where anyone could speak and others listened quietly before summing up the consensus; this influenced his own demeanor as a leader - Became a lawyer as stories told by chiefs stirred his interest in his peoples history and laid the groundwork for his political activism - A speech given by Chief Meligqili in regards to African people being „conquered‟ struck a discording note with Mandela as he was told that freedom and independence can‟t be offered to his people- sparked his political awakening - 1993 Mandela was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a new non-racial constitution and free elections Chapter 16 Examinations The Piagetian stage of formal operations: makes it possible for a young person to visualize an ideal world David Elkind: identified immature aspects of adolescents thought and their moral development Cognitive Growth: issues of school and vocational choice Guideposts for Study 1. How do adolescents‟ thinking and use of language differ from younger children‟s? 2. What basis do adolescents make moral judgments? How does pro-social behavior vary? 3. What influences affect adolescents‟ school success and their educational and vocational planning and preparation? Aspects of Cognitive Maturation - Information processes continue to increase and although thinking may remain immature in some ways, they are capable of abstract reasoning and sophisticated moral judgments and can plan more realistically for the future Piaget‟s Stage of Formal Maturation - Formal operation: the highest level of cognitive development; developing the capacity for abstract thought - Starts around age 11 and gives a more flexible way to manipulate information - Learning symbols for symbols (X rep and unknown), can learn algebra and calculus and also appreciate metaphors and allegory to find richer meanings in literature - Can imagine possibilities and form test hypotheses, can integrate what they have learned in the past with challenges of the present and make plans for the future - However, they are not able to think in concrete operations and the ability to think abstractly has emotional implications, too (ex. The adolescent can love freedom or hate exploitation…The possible and the ideal captivate both mind and feeling” (H. Ginsburg & Opper, 1979, p. 201), whereas earlier a child could love a parent or hate a classmate.) Hypothetical- Deductive Reasoning - The Pendulum Problem: Shown a pendulum (an object hanging from a string) and then shown how they can change 4 factors: length of string, weight of object, height which object is released, forced used to push the object. Then asked which factor or combination determines how fast the pendulum swings? - First see the pendulum problem at age 7, the pre-operational stage (unable to formulate a plan of attack trying one thing after another in a hit-or-miss manner; method is random and cannot understand or report what has happened) - Age 10 is the stage of concrete operations (discover changing length of the string and weight of object affects speed, but cannot tell which factor is most critical or if both are) - Age 15 arrives at the stage of formal operations (now capable of hypothetical-deductive reasoning which gives him a tool to solve problems; develop, consider, test) o Enters the problem systematically, testing all possible hypotheses varying one factor at a time while holding other factors constant to determine that one factor (the length of the string) determines how fast the pendulum swings - Piaget attributes a combination of brain maturation and expanding environment in the development of formal reasoning which are both essential - In developing concrete operations, schooling and culture play a role in the additional to bio-neurological maturation- this kind of thinking is a learned ability (ex. Children in New Guinea or Rwanda that were tested on the Pendulum Problem were not able to solve it whereas North American or European children were) Evaluating Piaget‟s Theory - May have overestimated some adolescents abilities as many late adolescents and adults are incapable of abstract thought and even those capable of abstract thinking do not always use it - Paid little attention to individual differences or social/cultural influences and later “came to view his earlier model as flawed because it failed to capture the essential role of the situation in influencing and constraining children‟s thinking” - The concept of formal operations at the apex of mature thought may be too narrow - Neo-Piaget research suggests that adolescent thought process is more flexible and varied as young people tie their type of thinking with what they are thinking about, the context of the problem, kinds of information present and what their culture considers important - Piaget‟s theory doesn‟t consider cognitive advantages and gains in information- processing capacity, accumulation of knowledge and the role of metacognition (awareness and monitoring of one‟s own mental processes and strategies) - The process of “thinking about what one‟s thinking about” or imagining one‟s own mental process (enhanced function), may be the chief advancement of adolescent thought Elkind: Immature Characteristics of Adolescent Thought - Adolescents may be rude to adults, have trouble making up their minds and act as if the whole world revolves around them - Psychologist David Elkind (1984, 1998) says this behavior is due to inexperience and ventures into formal operational thought- this new way of thinking transforms the way they look at themselves and the world, making them feel awkward in its use - According to Elkind, immature thinking manifests itself in at least 6 characteristics: 1) Idealism and criticalness: envisioning an ideal world, they realize how far the real world falls short and hold adults responsible. They become super-conscious of hypocrisy with sharpened verbal reasoning, relish in entertainment that attacks public figures and are convinced they know how to run the world better than adults. 2) Argumentativeness: constantly looking for opportunities to try out their newfound formal reasoning abilities- Ex. Why they should be able to stay out later than their curfew. 3) Indecisiveness: Adolescents keep many alternatives in mind but lack strategies for choosing among them; have trouble making up their mind. 4) Apparent hypocrisy: do not know the difference between expressing an ideal (conserving energy) and making the sacrifice to live up to it (drive less) 5) Self-consciousness: in a stage of formal operations, adolescents can think about thinking, however in preoccupation with their own mental state they assume everyone else is thinking about what they are thinking of: themselves. This is referred to as an imaginary audience by Elkind, which persists to a lesser degree as an adult. 6) Specialness and invulnerability: Elkind uses the term personal fable (adolescents think they are special, unique and that they are not subject to rules- “Others get hooked taking drugs, but I won‟t.”)-Underlies risky, destructive behavior, continuing into adulthood. - Imaginary audience and personal fable may not be universal to all adolescent cognitive development, may be related to specific social experiences (dangerous neighborhoods) Language Development - Use of language reflects cognitive development, school aged children are proficient in language but adolescents bring further refinements - By age 16-18, average adolescent knows 80, 000 words - With formal thought they can define and discuss love, justice and freedom - Express local relations between thought using words like however, really, otherwise, probably and therefore - Take pleasure in using irony, puns and metaphors - Are more skilled in social perspective taking, the ability to understand another person‟s point of view and to tailor their speech accordingly (is essential to persuade or engage in polite conversation) - Use a different language with peers vs. adults, separating them as an independent identity “to define their generation‟s unique take on values, tastes and preferences.” Changes in Information Processes In Adolescents - Frontal lobe maturation helps to explain cognitive advances - Neural connections may wither or strengthen, a reflection of response to experience, varies between individuals - 2 broad categories of measurable change in information processing: structural change and functional change Structural Change 1) Growth of information processing capacity 2) Increase in the amount of knowledge stored in long term memory - Working memory continues to increase during adolescence enabling older adolescence to deal with complex problems or decisions involving multiple pieces of information. - Information stored in long-term memory can be declarative, procedural, or conceptual. - Declarative knowledge (“knowing that…”) consists of all the factual knowledge a person has acquired - Procedural knowledge (knowing how to…”) consists of all the skills a person has acquired (adding/ driving) - Conceptual knowledge (“knowing why”) is an understanding of (interpretive understandings) Functional Change - Process for obtaining, handling and retaining information are functional aspects of cognition (Ex. Learning, remembering and reasoning) - The most important functional changes: 1) Increase in processing speed 2) Increase in executive function (skills such as selective attention, decision making, inhibitory control of impulsive responses and management of working memory) - Inhibition happens first, then processing speed, then working memory - Each process matures independently but seems to aid in the development of the others Moral Development - Adolescents are better than children at looking at other peoples perspectives, to solve social problems and to deal with interpersonal relationships and to see themselves as social beings, all which foster moral development Kohlberg‟s Theory of Moral Reasoning - Kohlberg and his colleagues posed hypothetical dilemmas; A druggist develops a drug and sells it for $2000. A man needs this drug for his dying wife but is poor and only has $1000 so he breaks into the store and steals the drug. - Dilemma was posed to 75 boys‟ ages 10, 13 and 16 and periodically questioned them for 30 years- At the heart of each dilemma was the concept justice. - Kohlberg and Piaget concluded that they way people develop their answers for moral issues reflects cognitive development Kohlberg‟s Levels and Stages- Six Stages of Moral Reasoning (P.435) - Kohlberg‟s theory of moral development is more complex than Piaget‟s as Kohlberg describes 3 levels of moral reasoning on the basis of though processes 1) Preconventional morality. People act under external controls, obeying rules to avoid punishment or reap rewards, or act out of self interest – typical of children ages 4-10 o Stage 1- Orientation toward punishment and obedience (“What will happen to me?”) o Stage 2- Instrumental purpose and exchange (“Scratch my back and I‟ll scratch yours”) 2) Conventional morality (or morality of conventional role conformity). People have internalized standards of authority figures, are concerned about being good, pleasing others, and maintaining the social order-typically reached after age 10 and some never move beyond it, even in adulthood o Stage 3- Maintaining mutual relations, approval of others, the golden rule (Develop the idea of what a good person is) o Stage 4- Social concern and conscience (What if other everybody did it?) 3) Postconventional morality (or morality of autonomous moral principals) People recognize conflicts between moral standards, make their own judgments on the basis of principals of right, fairness and justice- people do not reach this level until at least early adolescence or young adulthood, if ever o Stage 5- Morality of contract, of individual rights, and of democratically accepted law (People believe it‟s better for society if they obey the law) o Stage 6- Morality of universal ethical principles (People do what they think is right regardless of the law- internalized standards) - Kohlberg added a transitional level between 2 and 3, when people no longer feel bound by society‟s moral standards but have also not developed rationally derived principles of justice- base decisions on personal feelings - In Kohlberg‟s theory it is the reasoning underlying a persons response (not the answer itself), that indicates the stage of moral development - Often adolescents show periods of apparent disequilibrium when advancing between levels, or fall back on other ethical systems, rather than Kohlberg‟s justice based one - To develop a fully principled (level 3) morality people must recognize moral standards, very few people reach a level where they can choose among differing moral standards Evaluating Kohlberg‟s Theory - Built on Piaget‟s work and developed a shift in the way we look at moral development - We now study how children and adults base moral judgments on the social world, not the control over self gratifying impulses - Most of Kohlberg‟s research has been supported but there‟s some doubt on the stages of moral development; some children can reason flexibly about issues as early as age 6. - A certain level of cognitive development is necessary but not sufficient for a comparable level of moral development thus other process besides cognition must be at work. - Moral activity is motivated not only by considerations of justice but also by emotions as empathy, guilt and distress and the internalization of pro-social norms - Kohlberg‟s stages 5 and 6 can‟t be called the most mature stages of moral development as it restricts “maturity” to a select group of people based on a philosophical reflection - No clear relationship between moral reasoning and behavior; people at post conventional levels of reasoning don‟t necessarily act more moral than those at lower levels - Specific situations, conceptions of virtue and concerns for others contribute to moral behaviours - Adolescence who are more advanced in moral reasoning tend to be more moral in their behavior and are better adjusted and higher in social competence; antisocial adolescents tend to use less mature moral reasoning - An alternative to the time-consuming testing procedures necessary for Kohlberg‟s system is the Defining Issues Test (DIT) where students rank a list of statements rather than being asked to articulate the issues and arguments involve - DIT is given to a group and quickly scored but may tend to overestimate the degree of m
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