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Conceptual Development.docx

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PSYC 302
Janet Werker

Both text and lecture Only Lecture Key Terms Chapter 7 Conceptual DevelopmentConceptsGeneral ideas or understandings that can be used to group together objects events qualities or abstractions that are similar in some wayCrucial for helping people make sense of the world o Help us understand the world o Allow us to generalize from prior experience to act effectively in the worldPerspectives on Concepts o Although there is widespread agreement that conceptual development reflects the interaction of nature and nurture the particulars of this interaction are hotly debated o Nativists argue that innate understanding of concepts plays a central role in developmentNurture is important to childrens developing the concepts beyond this initial level but not for forming the initial understanding o Empiricists argue that concepts arise from basic learning mechanismsNature endows infants with only general learning mechanisms such as the ability to perceive associate generalize and remember The rapid and universal formation of fundamental concepts such as time space causality number and mind arises from infants massive exposure to experiences that are relevant to these conceptsTwo groups of fundamental concepts o To be used to categorize the kinds of things that exist in the world people living things in general and inanimate objects o Dimensions used to represent our experiences space where the experience occurred time when it occurred causality why it occurred and number how many times it occurredI Understanding Who or WhatTwo key questions children must answered to begin to understand the objects that they encounterWhat kinds of things are there in the worldHow are these things related to each other1 Dividing Objects into CategoriesCategory hierarchies categories that are related by setsubset relations such as animaldogpoodleA major means by which categorization helps children solve the question of how things in the world are related to each otherHow do children form categories that apply to all kinds of objects living and nonliving11 Categorization of Objects in Infancy 1 The first months of life 3 and 4 month old Their habituation to the cat photographs suggests the infants saw all the cats despite their differences as members of a single category their dishabituation to the photo of the dog or other animal suggests the infants saw those creatures as members of different categories than the cats6month old habituated after pictures of different types of mammals dogs zebras elephants etc and then dishabituated when shown a picture of a bird or a fish Infants can form categories more general than catsPerceptual categorization the grouping together of objects that have similar appearances a key element in infants categorization abilities 2 By the end of first year 9 and 10month old expected that a toy that looked like the original would serve the same function making the same interesting noiseInfants form categories on the basis of objects functions3 Before 18 months of age rely heavily on the presence of legs to categorize objects as animals wheelsvehiclesTheir categorization is often largely based on specific parts of an object rather than on the object as a whole 4 As approaching 2nd birthday increasingly categorize objects on the basis of overall shape Useful assumption for many objects shape rather than color or size or texture is similar for different members of a category12 Categorization of Objects Beyond Infancy 1 Category hierarchies Superordinate level the general one Eg plantBasic level the medium or in between one Eg tree Subordinate level the very specific one Eg oakBasic level is the one that children usually learn first It has moderate amount of consistent characteristics and not as hard to discriminate among different categories as subordinate level eg oaks vs maples
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