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Chapter 1

PSY312H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: John Stuart Mill, Lewis Terman, Associationism

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Hywel Morgan

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What is children’s thinking?
-thinking that occurs from birth to the end of adolescence and involves things such as problem solving,
reasoning, creating, remembering, planning, etc which are all higher mental processes
-constantly changing
Are some capabilities innate?
-3 different perspectives:
-associationist perspective
-developed by John Locke, David Hume and John Stuart Mill during the 1700s and 1800s who
thought that infants only have minimal capabilities when they are first born and therefore through learning must
acquire basically all capacities and concepts
-constructivist perspective
-developed by Jean Piaget during the 1920s 1970s
-suggested infants are born with both associative capabilities as well as several perceptual and
motor capabilities which although limited in scope and number are also important in order for the infant to
explore its environment and construct concepts and understandings that increase in sophistication as they
-competent-infant perspective
-suggests that infants have more capabilities compared to what is suggested in the first two
perspectives which underestimate the number of capabilities
-based on more recent research
-George Berkeley thought by moving around and associating how objects looked with how much movement
was required to reach them, infants would be able to perceive distance accurately
-research shows that infants can tell the difference between closer and further objects even the day
after they are born
-3 month old infants understand that objects still exist even when hidden, will fall if not supported, move along
paths that are spatially continuous and solid objects cannot pass through another solid object
-infants possess general learning concepts such as imitation (way to learn new behaviours and strengthen
bond with those who they are copying) and statistical learning (extracting sequential patterns from input)
Does development progress through stages?
-ideas by Charles Darwin inspired psychologists to view development as occurring in stages
-developmental theorists thought transitions between stages were sudden (ex: caterpillar to butterfly)
-associationist philosophers thought transitions were gradual (ex: being built brick by brick)
-James Mark Baldwin suggested 4 stages that children progress through: sensorimotor, quasilogical, logical and
hyperlogical stage Baldwin was ignored by most
-4 implications were suggested by Flavell: 1) qualitative changes 2) concurrence assumption (transitioning
from one stage to another simultaneously on many concepts) 3) abruptness assumption (move to each stage
suddenly and not gradually) 4) coherent organization (transition from one way of thinking to a new way)
How does change occur?
-ability to produce speech sounds both grow (gain increasing facility in producing at will sounds that are part
of their native language) and decline (originally infants are capable of producing all sounds for any language
but after awhile begin to lose the ability to produce many of them that are not used in their native language)
-Piagetian Piaget suggested assimilation and accommodation produce all cognitive changes
-assimilation: process which people represent experiences in terms of their existing understanding (ex:
child who saw round candle might call it a ball if she had never seen a candle before)
-accommodation: people’s existing understanding is changed by new knowledge
-information-processing approach interested in process of change
-4 change mechanisms:
1) automatization mental processes that increase in efficiency and require less and less
attention with age and experience
2) encoding identifying the most informative features of objects and events and ignoring the
irrelevant ones
3) generalization extension of knowledge acquired in one situation to another situation
4) strategy construction generation/discovery of a new way to solve a problem
How do individuals differ?
-first Binet-Simon test released 1905
-Lewis Terman (Stanford University) revised test for use in USA 1916
-assume not all children will think/reason at the same level at a given age
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