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Chapter 7

PSYCH 211: Chapter 7 Notes - Part 2

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Mathieu Le Corre

Chapter 7 (continued) Core-Knowledge Theories  Core-knowledge theory: view that infants are born with rudimentary knowledge of the world that is elaborated upon, based on children’s experience  Infants are endowed with knowledge in specialized domains (such as language) that were historically significant for survival o Explains how children acquires some kind of knowledge relatively easily early in life o Ex. learning to talk (very little effort) vs. learning calculus (lots of hard work)  Some forms of knowledge are so important for human survival that specialized systems have evolved that simplify learning of those forms of knowledge o Some believe that these mental structures are pre-wired to analyze one kind of data very efficiently, but nothing else (modular view) o Others believe they are “child-scientists” – create informal theories of the world  Children do not start from scratch; a few innate principles provide the starting point  Language was the first core domain!  Children rapidly acquire knowledge of objects, people, and living things  They create informal or naive theories of physics, psychology, and biology o Naive physics: allows children to predict where/how objects move in the environment o Naive psychology: allows more successful interactions with others o Naive biology: important in avoiding predators and in maintaining health  Language represents an evolutionarily important domain o This is why children may be very fluent in language at a young age, but not so skilled in problem solving, puzzles, and other mental tasks Understanding in Core Domains  By knowing that an object belongs to a category, we learn some of its properties, including what it can do, and where we’re likely to find it o Ex. child learns what a sippy cup is; later, he recognizes other cups that are members of the general category of sippy cups and knew exactly what to do with them o If categorizing wasn’t possible, each experience would be novel  Important clues from perceptual features and their organization help children to categorize o Ex. cylindrical shape with opening at 1 hand and a handle  Categories start out very broad/general and become more specific as infants learn the cues that distinguish subcategories o Ex. category of animals is later broken up into specific species (dogs, cats, birds, etc.) Understanding Objects and Their Properties  Renee Baillargeon object permanence experiment: o The silver screen would normally rotate until it hits the red box; however, in the experiment, they had a trap door under the red box so the silver screen was able to rotate until it was flat (while the red box was lowered into the trap door), and back up, revealing the red box again (looking like the red box disappeared and reappeared)  This violates the idea that objects exist permanently  An infant that understands object permanence finds this event a novel stimulus, and would therefore look at it longer than if the red box did not disappear o RESULTS: 4½-month-olds: looked longer at the unrealistic event (box disappearing)  Therefore, infants have some understanding of object permanence Infants as naive physicists:  Infants also know that objects move along connected, continuous paths and that objects cannot move through other objects (they look longer at objects that violate these properties) o Ex. ball rolling through hole vs. ball rolling through wall  5 months – infants look longer at the ball rolling “through” the wall without the hole because it violates their naive theory of physics st  Middle of 1 year – understand that one object striking another will cause the latter to move st  Later in 1 year – infants look longer at the unsupported (floating) object because it violates their expectations about what happens to unsupported objects (they usually fall)  Infants DO NOT have complete/a full understanding yet o Ex. in elementary school, they learn objects fall due to gravity, then in high school they learn that gravity equals the mass of an object time its acceleration due to gravity Understanding Living Things  Motion is critical in early understanding of the difference between animate and inanimate objects – that is, infants and toddlers use motion to identify animate objects  12-15 months – children have determined that animate objects are self-propelled, can move in irregular paths, and act to achieve goals  Children’s naive theories of biology include many properties associated with living things  4 year olds’ theories of bi
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