Cognitive Development – Chapter 2 Notes:
All About Piaget
· Combined backgrounds in biology and philosophy led him to agree with Kant on what basic
concepts of knowledge were (space, time, classes, causality), but disagreed that they were innate.
He believed children understand these principles in increasing complexities as they develop. His
main question was “how does knowledge evolve?”
· Functional Assimilation: Contrary theory chronicling the motivational factors for eliciting
behaviour. Instead of being due to external reward, Piaget suggested they would be expressed as
soon as they were available to the child, due to the sheer joy of mastery.
· Imitation and Fantasy Play are the extreme variants of Accommodation and Assimilation,
respectively. However, children will never TOTALLY disregard physical properties, even in
pretend play (beds are never teacups)
· Wider Implications of Equilibration
· In addition to helping to revise complex through the resolution of disequilibrium, the
cumulative effects of repeated conceptual revisions (according to Piaget) were also the driving
force behind the progression through the various cognitive stages of development (eg. As
children repeatedly encounter situations in which physical attributes do not tell the whole story,
they shift their emphasis to more enduring, “internal” traits)
· Piaget Assumed the Child was a Scientific Problem Solver (based on Three Ideas)
· Development is an adaptive strategy to understanding environments
· Development only occurs within the context of disequilibrium. Since this is caused by a change
in the child's mental representation of their world, the attempt to resolve the disequilibrium (and
thus to grow and develop) is a motivation to adapt to a changing world.
· You can reveal the types of reasoning children exhibit by watching them solve similar
problems at different ages.
· Opted for flexibility over control for his research methods (using observations of children, and
inquiry about their hypotheses); perhaps a factor in underestimating the capabilities of young
children. However, they also allowed him to follow up unexpected observations and make the
discoveries we remember him for.
On The Stage Model
· Sensorimotor Period
· Substage 1: Modification of Reflexes--> Begin with innate reflexes, progressively modify WHEN
these reflexes are elicited (in response to external stimuli)
· Substage 2: Primary Circular Reactions--> Repetition of basic movements; if an interesting
result is elicited as a result of the movement, the child is more likely to repeat it. PCR's are
flexible, but limited in 3 ways:
· They are an identical imitation of the original behaviour (never vary or elaborate on action)
· These actions are poorly integrated and have a large trial-and-error component
· Only try to repeated actions with results that involve their own bodies (eg. Sucking a finger)
· Substage 3: Secondary Circular Reactions: Like PCR's, but involving objects outside of child's
body. Infants recognize and organize components facilitating the results of their circular actions.
They identify the actions that create outco