Chapter 5 - Independent Questions
I. Cognitive Changes
A. Piaget’s View of the First Two Years
Sensorimotor Stage – See lecture notes
1. (a) Define object permanence.
(b) Your textbook states that “in a series of studies, many of which involved his own
children, Piaget discovered that babies acquire an understanding of object permanence
gradually during the sensorimotor stage (p. 133). Read the three paragraphs in this
subsection and identify the gradual process of object permanence in infancy.
2. According to Piaget there is a sequence in infants’ imitation ability.
(a) Compare infants’ imitation ability in the first few months of life with infants’ ability
at 8-12 months.
(b) Define deferred imitation and identify when Piaget predicted this imitation ability to
Development in the Information Age: What do babies really learn from watching television? (p.
3. Your textbook states: “Parents often assume that exposing babies to intellectual
stimulation via television, especially programs produced specifically for infants, will
enhance their cognitive development (Harkness, 1998)”. A tentative explanation for
why this occurs is that parents (humans) may conveniently rely on knowledge gained
from television advertisements, which suggest this is the case (Baby Einstein and so
(a) Wendy Josephson did a meta-analysis (or meta-synthesis) funded by Child & Family
Canada. Summarize the findings presented in your textbook.
(b) Take notes on the remainder of the information in this special report (all of the
material after the research finding in 3a) to learn more about the effects of television on
cognitive development in infancy. (Perhaps this is why Baby Einstein products were
forced (by law) to remove all claims that suggested positive outcomes for infants who
used their products.)
B. Challenges to Piaget’s View
4. Your textbook states that research on Piaget’s claims in the ‘Sensorimotor stage’ suggest that
his theory underestimates the cognitive capacities of infants. Identify the TWO specific
reasons offered to back up this general finding (see the first paragraph).
He thought were cognitive problems, could’ve been motor problems
Object Permanence – (optional reading - not on the midterm2 exam) Imitation
8. (a) Identify what aspect(s) of Piaget’s claims about imitation in infancy is/are supported by
(b) Identify what aspect(s) are not supported by research. Record the specific research findings
that challenge Piaget’s claims.
(c) Your textbook suggests that these new research findings “are significant for several
reasons” (p. 136). Identify these reasons.
C. Alternative Approaches
9. (a) Elizabeth Spelke and her colleagues have examined Piaget’s theory, specifically his
ideas about object permanence. Her examination is guided by her assumption that
“babies are born with certain built-in assumptions that guide their interactions with
objects” (p. 136). Restated, she believes that humans are born with certain
ideas/assumptions about how the world works, which influences how they interact with
their environment (she doesn’t fully accept the idea of empiricism nor Locke’s view that
humans are a blank slate - though she accepts Rousseau’s notion that human’s have
innate tendencies). One of the innate assumptions Spelke believes we are born with is
the ‘connected surface principle’. Define the ‘connected surface principle’. (Note:
You don’t need to take notes on the information in paragraphs two and three – I just
expect you to define the connected surface principle.)
(b) Renee Baillargeon