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Chapter 16

developmental chapter 16

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PSYC 2450
Jennifer Mc Taggart

Chapter 16- Cognitive Development in Adolescence Aspects of Cognitive Maturation Piaget’s stage of Formal Operations  Formal operations: o What Piaget called the highest level of cognitive development that adolescents enter o Is when they develop the capacity for abstract thinking o Usually around the age of 11 o Gives them new, more flexible way of manipulating information o Thought at this stage has a flexibility not possible in the stage of concrete operations o The ability to think abstractly has emotional implications too, they can now captivate and understand an abstract, as well as feel it emotionally as well Hypothetical-Deductive Reasoning  To understand the difference that formal reasoning makes, let‟s follow the progress of a typical child in dealing with a classic Piagetian problem, the pendulum problem  To see more of Piaget‟s tasks for assessing the achievement of formal operations, see page 429, figure 16-1  The child is shown the pendulum – an object hanging from a string  He is shown how she can change any of 4 factors: o The length of the string o The weight of the object o The height from which the object is released o The amount of force he may use to push the object  He is asked to figure out which factor, or which combination of factors determines how fast the pendulum swings o Child at 7 years old (preoperational stage)  Unable to formulate a plan for attacking the problem  Tries one thing after another in a hit-or-miss manner o Child at 10 years (concrete operations)  He discovers that varying lengths of the string and the weight of the object affects the speed of the swing  However, because he varies both factors at the same time, he cannot tell which is critical or whether both are o Child at 15 years (formal operations)  He goes at the problem systemically  He designs an experiment to test all the possible hypotheses, varying one factor at a time  He is now able to determine that only one factor – the length of the string – determines how fast the pendulum swings  He is now capable of hypothetical-deductive reasoning  The ability to develop a hypothesis and design an experiment to test it  What brings the shift to formal reasoning? o Piaget attributed it to a combination of brain maturation and expanding environmental opportunities Evaluating Piaget’s theory  It is debatable at what age the ability to think abstractly occurs  Piaget overestimated some older children‟s abilities o Some late adolescents and adults seem incapable of abstract thought  Piaget, also does pays little attention to individual differences, to variations in a child‟s performance of difference kinds of task, or to social and cultural influences  Piaget‟s concept of formal operations as the highest point of mature thought may be too narrow o Neo-Piagetian research suggest that adolescent thought processes are more flexible and varied o The type of thinking young people use is closely tied to what they are thinking about, as well as to the context of a problem and the kinds of information and thought a culture considers important  Piaget‟s theory foes not adequately consider such cognitive advances as gains in information-processing capacity, accumulation of knowledge and expertise in specific fields, and the role of metacognition, the awareness and monitoring of one‟s own mental processes and strategies Elkind: Immature Characteristics of Adolescent Thought  According to psychologist David Elkind immature adolescent thought patterns stems from their inexperienced ventures into formal operational thought o This new way of thinking, which fundamentally transform the way they look at themselves and their world, is as unfamiliar to them as their reshaped bodies, and they sometimes feel just as awkward in its use  The immaturity of thinking manifests itself in a least six characteristics ways, according to Elkind: 1. Idealism and criticalness: o As adolescents envision an ideal world, they realize how far the real world, for which they hold adults responsible, falls short. They feel that they know better than adults on how to run the world 2. Argumentativeness: o Adolescents are constantly looking for opportunities to try out their newfound formal reasoning abilities 3. Indecisiveness: o Adolescents can keep many alternatives in mind at the same time, yet may lack effective strategies for choosing among them 4. Apparent hypocrisy: o Young adolescents often do not recognize the difference between expressing an ideal, such as conversing energy, and making the sacrifices necessary to live up to it, such as driving less often 5. Self-consciousness: o Adolescents can think about thinking – their own and other people. o However, in their preoccupation with their mental state, adolescents often assume that everyone else is thinking about the same thing they are thinking about: themselves o Imaginary audience: an observer who exists only in an adolescent’s mind and is as concerned with the adolescent’s thoughts and actions as the adolescents is 6. Specialness and invulnerability: o Personal fable: used to denote a belief by adolescents that they special, that their experience is unique, and that they are not subject to the rules that govern the rest of the world o This special form of egocentrism underlies much risky, self- destructive behaviour  The concepts of the imaginary audience and the personal fable have been widely accepted, but their validity as distinct earmarks of adolescence has little dependent research support Language Development  Children‟s use of language reflects their level of cognitive development  With the advent of formal thought, adolescents can define and discuss such abstractions as „love‟, „justice‟ and „freedom‟  They more frequently use the such terms as „however‟, „otherwise‟, „anyway‟, „therefore‟, „really‟ and „probably‟ to express logical relations between clauses or sentences  They take pleasure in using irony, puns and metaphors  Adolescents also become more skilled in social perspective-taking, the ability to understand another person‟s point of view and level of knowledge and to tailor their own speech accordingly  Conscious of their audience, adolescents speak a different language with peers and with adults o Teenage slang is part of the process of developing an independent identity separate from parents and the adult world Changes in Information Processing in Adolescence  This reflects the maturation of the brain‟s frontal lobes and may help explain the cognitive advances Piaget described  Researchers have identifies 2 broad categories of measureable change in information processing: structural change and functional change Structural Change  In adolescence may include: o Growth of information-processing capacity o An increase in the amount of knowledge stored in long-term memory  Information stored in the long-term memory can be:  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. Ex. being able to ride a bike  Conceptual knowledge: (“knowing why”) is an understanding of, for example, why an algebraic equation remains true if the same amount is added or subtracted from both sides o The expansion of working memory enables older adolescents to deal with complex problems or decisions involving multiple pieces of information Functional Change  Processes for obtaining, handling, and retaining information are functional aspects of cognition  Among these are learning, remembering and reasoning, all of which improve during adolescence  The most important functional changes are: o A continued increase in processing speed o Further development of executive function, which includes such skills as selective attention, decision making, inhibitory control of impulsive response, and management of working memory Moral Development Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Reasoning Kohlberg’s Levels and Stages  Lawrence Kohlberg described three levels of moral reasoning each divided into two stages (refer to page 453, table 16-1 for more information on the stages) o Level I: Pre-conventional morality:  People act under external controls. They obey rules to avoid punishment or reap rewards, or act out of self-interest  Typical of children‟s age 4-10  Stage 1: Orientation toward punishment and obedience  Stage 2: Instrumental purpose and exchange o Level II: Conventional morality: (or morality of conventional role conformity)  People have internalized the standards of authority figures  They are concerned about being „good‟, pleasing others and maintaining social order  Typical of 10-13 years, many never move beyond it, even in adulthood  Stage 3: Maintaining mutual relations, approval of others, the golden rule  Stage 4: Social concern and conscience o Transitional level (between Level II and III)  When people no longer feel bound by society‟s moral standards but have not yet developed rationally derived principles of justice  They base their moral decisions on personal feelings o Level III: Post-Conventional morality:  People recognize conflicts between moral standards and make their own judgment on the basis of principles of right, fairness and justice  Typical of early adolescence, or not until young adulthood, or never  Stage 5: Morality of contract, of individual rights, and of democratically accepted law  Stage 6: Morality of universal ethical principles  It is the reasoning underlying a person‟s response to a moral dilemma, not the answer itself, that indicates the stage of moral development  Later, he proposed a seventh „cosmic‟ stage, in which people consider the effect of their actions not only on other people but on the universe as a whole Evaluating Kohlberg’s Theory  Instead of viewing morality solely as the attainment of control over self-gratifying impulses, investigators now study how children and adults base moral judgement on their growing understanding of the social world, thanks to Kohlberg  One reason the ages attached to Kohlberg‟s levels are so variable is that people who have achieved a high level of cognitive development do not always reach a comparably high level of moral development  A certain level of cognitive development is miscarry but not suffic
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