PSYB32H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Object Permanence, Cognitive Development, Behaviorism

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Published on 18 Nov 2011
Developmental – Chapter 8 Notes
Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development
As children participated in standardized IQ tests, he noticed that:
(1) children of the same age tended to get the same answers wrong, and;
(2) he observed that the errors of children of a particular age differed in systematic ways
from those of older or younger children
Piaget thought that these errors revealed distinct age-related ways of thinking and understanding
the world
To study children's thinking, he relied on two methods: Interviews and Observations
Interviews: He'd present a problem to a child and ask them to explain their thinking in
coming up with an answer
Observations: Present a problem and watch how children behaved as they tried to solve it
Children play an active role in acquiring knowledge. They actively seek out information.
In behaviourism, children are passive as they wait for info (or stimuli) from their
Constructivist view: Children actively create their understanding of the world as they
encounter new information and have new experiences
He provided approximate ages at which developmental milestones/achievements occur
Cognitive Organization
He believed that, over the course of development, children's knowledge of the world gets
organized into increasingly more complex cognitive structures
He built much of his theory on the concept of the schema(s): an organized unit of knowledge,
and collectively, schemas form the knowledge base that a person uses to understand and interact
with the environment
Organization: combining simple mental structures into more complex systems
As children grow older and gain experience, they shift gradually from using schemata based on
overt physical activities to those based on internal mental activities
He called these mental schemata operations: schemas based on internal mental activities)
Suggested 4 stages of Cognitive Development (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete
operations, formal operations)
Cognitive Adaptation
Children continually modify their schemas in relation to their own experiences. This process is
referred to as adaptation: adjusting to environmental demands
It always involves determining how new information fits with existing knowledge as well as
how existing knowledge may need to change to incorporate new information
To understand a new experience, children at first try assimilation: apply their existing schemas
to the new experience
However, babies will sometimes encounter an object that is hard to assimilate.
Ex: they encounter a large inflated ball that is very difficult to grasp and suck.
Infant must modify her strategy for exploring objects (her looking-grasping-sucking scheme)
and adopt a new approach using the method of accomodation: modifying an existing way of
responding to the environment to fit the characteristics of a new experience
Ex: she may hold the ball in her arms instead of her hands and lick it with her tongue
instead of trying to suck on it
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Sensorimotor Stage
Sensorimotor Stage: First stage of cognitive development, during which children move from
purely reflexive behaviour to the beginnings of symbolic thought and goal-directed behaviours
This stage involves the learning of object permanence: the realization that objects continue to
exist even when they're out of sight
6 sub-stages of the sensorimotor period:
Substage 1: Basic Reflex Activity – (Birth to 1 month)
Infant becomes more proficient in the use of their innate reflexes
Substage 2: Primary Circular Reactions – (1 to 4 months)
Infants repeat and modify actions that focus on their own bodies and that are pleasurable and
Ex: a baby accidentally brings finger close to mouth and starts sucking on it. Baby finds this
pleasurable and attempts to reproduce the exact behaviour
Substage 3: Secondary Circular Reactions – (4 to 8 months)
Behaviours focused on objects outside the infant's own body that the infant repeatedly engages
in because they're pleasurable
So this one involves repetitive behaviours focused on external objects, hence secondary
Ex: Infant shakes the rattle, likes the sound, so will continue to shake rattle over again
Substage 4: Coordination of Secondary Schemata – (8 to 12 months)
By combining schemas, child is able to plan deliberately to attain a goal
Ex: Combine hitting schema with her reaching and grasping schemas to move one toy out of
the way so she can reach another
The A-not-B error is common here
Substage 5: Tertiary Circular Reactions – (12 to 18 months)
Behaviours in which infants experiment with the properties of external objects and try to learn
how objects respond to various actions
Children use trial-and-error methods to learn more about the properties of objects and to solve
problems – become “little scientists”
Substage 6: Inventing New Means by Mental Combination – (18 – 24 months)
Children begin to combine schemas mentally, thus relying less on physical trial-and-error
The beginning of symbolic thought appears: children begin to think symbolically and engage
in internal, or mental, problem solving
Deferred imitation: mimicry of an action some time after having observed it; requires that the
child has stored a mental image of the action
New Research Directions and Explanations of Knowledge in Infancy
Findings suggest that infants know a lot more about objects than Piaget thought they did
Even infants as young as 3.5 months could demonstrate an awareness of object permanence
They also stare longer at unexpected (law violating) events, indicating they do understand
basic physical laws
The Preoperational Stage
The child's development of the symbolic function: the ability to use symbols, such as words,
images, and gestures, to represent objects and events mentally
The symbolic function promotes the learning of language; the period is also marked by
egocentricity and intuitive behaviour, in which the child can solve problems using mental
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