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Midterm #2 Study Guide All textbook notes for midterm 2, with lots of examples and info about experiments and important researchers :)

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Ori Friedman

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PSYCH 211 Midterm 2 Material B.B.
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CHAPTER 4: Theories of Cognitive Development
- Five theoretical perspectives on cognitive development that are particularly influential:
o The Piagetian perspective
o Information-processing perspective
o Core-knowledge perspective
o Sociocultural perspective
o Dynamic systems perspective
Piaget’s Theory
- View of Children’s Nature:
o His approach is often labeled as a constructivist depicts children as constructing
knowledge for themselves in response to their experiences
Via hypotheses, experiments, and conclusions from observations
“child as a scientist”
o Children learn on their own
o Children are intrinsically motivated to learn (without rewards from adults)
- Central Developmental Issues:
o Nature and nurture
Nurture care provided by parents/caregivers, experiences child encounters
Nature maturation of brain/body, child’s ability to perceive, act, and learn
from experience + child’s motivation to meet 2 basic functions:
Adaptation: tendency to respond to the demands of the environment in
ways that meet one’s goals
Organization: the tendency to integrate particular observations into
coherent knowledge
o sources of continuity
main sources are the 3 processes:
assimilation: process by which people translate incoming information into a
form that fits concepts they already understand
incorporate new info into concepts they already understand
eg person that’s balding and has some curly hair = “CLOWN!”
accommodation: the process by which people adapt current knowledge
structures in response to new experiences
eg person needs more than just curly hair/slightly bald head to be a
Equilibration: the process by which children (or other people) balance
assimilation and accommodation to create stable understanding

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PSYCH 211 Midterm 2 Material B.B.
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3 phases:
Equilibrium children are satisfied with their understanding
Disequilibrium children recognize shortcomings in their
understanding but can’t generate a better alternative
New understanding this new understanding eliminates
shortcomings of the old one
o Sources of discontinuity
Distinct stages of cognitive development
Piaget’s stage theory has certain properties: qualitative change, broad
applicability, brief transitions, invariant sequence (same order; no skipping
4 stages of cognitive development:
Sensorimotor stage (birth-2yrs): the period in which intelligence is
expressed through sensory and motor abilities
Live in the here and now intelligence bound to immediate
perceptions and actions
Preoperational stage (2-7 yrs): period in which children become able to
represent their experiences in language, mental imagery, and symbolic
Children have inability to perform mental operations (forms of
reasoning…eg juice conservation experiment)
Concrete operational stage (7-12 yrs): period in which children become
able to reason logically about concrete objects and events
Difficulty thinking in purely abstract terms and in generating
scientific experiments to test their beliefs, but understand
previous reasoning stuff
Formal operational stage (12yrs +): period in which people become
able to think about abstractions and hypothetical situations
Can perform experiments, draw appropriate conclusions
The Sensorimotor Stage (birth-2years)
- Aimless sucking, flailing, grasping = sensorimotor intelligence
- Infants lack object permanence: the knowledge that objects continue to exist even when
they’re out of view …peek-a-boo?
- By end of first year, infants search for hidden objects
o A-not-B-error: the tendency to reach for a hidden object where it was last found rather
than in the new location where it was last hidden
Fixes this error shortly after 1st bday

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PSYCH 211 Midterm 2 Material B.B.
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- Near the end of this stage, infants form mental representations
o Deferred imitation: the repetition of other people’s behavior a substantial time after it
originally occurred
Eg throwing a temper tantrum for first time, 24 hours after seeing someone else
throw one
The Preoperational Stage (2-7yrs)
- Development of symbolic representations
o Symbolic representation: the use of one object to stand for another
Eg “banana phone”, “v” shaped leaves on flower drawings
Usually physically represent the item they stand for (shape’s similar)
- Egocentrism
o Egocentrism: the tendency to perceive the world solely from one’s own point of view
o Piaget’s 3 mountains task – illustrates difficulty in separating their own perspective from
that of others
o Also seen during communication talk past each other (2 conversations at once),
assume others have the same knowledge as them (“he took it!”…who’s “he”?)
Becomes less common as verbal quarrels begin (notices other perspectives)
- Centration
o Centration: the tendency to focus on a single, perceptually striking feature of an object
or event
Exclude other relevant, but less striking, features
Eg the balance scale experiment (age 5-6) - 3 weights close to fulcrum vs 2
weights further away, child always picks the 3 weight side and ignores distance
o Conservation concept: the idea that merely changing the appearance of objects does
not change their key properties (quantity)
Conservation of liquid, solid quantity, and number
Eg orange juice, clay, row of pennies, cookies (one kid has 2, one has 1… the one
with 1 breaks theirs in half so they have “2” as well)
Focus on static states; ignores transformations
The Concrete Operations Stage (7-12yrs)
- Children begin to reason logically about concrete features of the world
o Now they understand the conservation concept, the balance, etc
- Still can’t think systematically or about hypothetical situations
o Eg pendulum experiment children came to conclusion that heavy weights make it go
faster, but didn’t consider length of string or height it was dropped from… didn’t think
of all the alternatives
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