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Chapter 2

PSY310H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Decision Rule, Sensation Seeking, Mentalization

Course Code
Virginia K Walker

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Chapter 2: Cognitive Transitions
-Adolescence is a critical period for the development of more complex and sophisticated ways of
reasoning about the world.
Adolescents are seen as being smarter than children in 5 distinct ways:
i. Adolescents can think in terms of what is possible rather than limiting themselves
to thinking in terms of what is real.
For adolescents reality is a subset of possibilities
Adolescents are able to move easily between the specific and
Adolescents’ ability reason helps in the improved ability in math,
science and other problem solving (e.g. finding “x”). Their new found
ability to reason better may explain why adolescents are more
argumentative and better at arguing.
Deductive Reasoning: type of logical reasoning in which one
draws logically necessary conclusions from a general set of premises
given. Rarely ever used before adolescence, sometimes seen as a major
intellectual accomplishment in adolescence.
Hypothetical Thinking: closely related to deductive reasoning,
thinking in terms of “what if”, e.g. playing the devil’s advocate.
Hypothetical thinking helps a young person to take on other people’s
perspective and evaluate anothers thinking, feeling and point of view.
ii. Ability to think in terms of abstract concepts, dealing with things that cannot be
experienced directly through senses.
iii. Thinking about thinking itself: Metacognition; involves monitoring your own
cognitive activity during the thinking process.
Adolescents are better at managing their thinking and explaining
the process they are using
In adolescents, metacognition leads to introspection: thinking
about our own emotions, and self-consciousness: we are thinking about
how others think about us.

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Adolescent Egocentrism: periods of extreme self-absorption.
Results in 2 distinct problems:
a. Imaginary audience: Such heightened self-consciousness
that the teenager believes that everyone is watching and
evaluating their behavior. (feelings of self-consciousness
are more intense in girls and peak around 25 then decline)
b. Personal Fable: Adolescents’ belief that he/she is unique
and therefore not subject to the rules that govern other
people’s behavior. (Personal fable enhances self-esteem and
iv. Thinking about thing in a multidimensional fashion.
Adolescents can see things through more complicated lenses which
is evident in a variety of situations
Adolescents give more complicated answers that children and are
more sophisticated at understanding probability.
Looking at things from a multidimensional fashion, aids in the
development of our ability to use and detect sarcasm and irony through
pre-adolescence to adolescence.
Also permits adolescents to appreciate satire, metaphors and
double entendres (that why we enjoy Simpsons, south park etc)
Consequences: adolescents define themselves in more
complicated terms; have more complicated self-conceptions and
v. A shift from seeing things in absolute terms to seeing things as relative.
Adolescents often question the validity of absolutes in this stage.
i. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development (Cognitive-Developmental View):
cognitive development proceeds through a fixed sequence of qualitatively distinct
stages. Proceeds in four stages:
Sensorimotor Period (0-2 yrs)

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Preoperational Period (2-5 yrs)
Period of Concrete Operations (6 yrs-Adolescence)
Formal Operations (Adolescence-Adulthood)
Each stage is characterized by particular type of thinking, with earlier
stages being incorporated into more advanced and adaptive forms of
New research suggests that cognitive development is continuous not stage
Reasoning capabilities seen a skills employed by older children
ii. Information Processing View: Driven from artificial intelligence and attempts to
explain cognitive development in terms of the growth of specific components of
the thinking process. 5 components of this view:
Attention: advances in adolescents’ ability to pay and direct
a. Selective Attention: Focus on one stimulus while tuning out
b. Divided Attention: Process of paying attention to 2 or more
stimuli simultaneously
c. Adolescence have considerable ability to inhibit unwanted
Memory: Adolescents memory abilities improve
a. Working Memory: ability to remember something for a brief
period of time.
b. Long Term Memory: Ability to recall something from a long time
c. Autobiographical Memory: Recall of personally meaningful past
d. Working memory skills for both verbal and visual information
increase between childhood and adolescence.
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