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Cognition- the mental activity through which human beings acquire and process
knowledge. ï- first he noticed that children
of same age tended to get same answers wrong. Second, he observed that errors of
children of a particular age differed in systematic ways from those of older or
younger children. He relied on two methods: interviews and observations.
ï: the child actively seeks knowledge, also known as the
constructivist view- the idea that children actively create their understanding of
the world as they encounter new info and have new experiences. Opposite of
behaviorism where children passively wait for info (or stimuli).
increasingly more complex cognitive structures- an organized group of interrelated
memories, thoughts, and strategies that the child uses in try to understand a
A lot of his theory was based on the concept of schema/schemas- an organized unit
of knowledge that the child uses to try to understand a situation; a schema forms the
basis for organizing actions to respond to the environment.
Organization- combining simple mental structures into more complex systems.
Operations- schemas based on internal mental activities that develops as you get
older instead of based on overt physical activities like in young children.
Assimilation- molding a new experience to fit an existing way of responding to the
environment. (applying existing schemes to the new experience.)
Accomodation- modifying an existing way of responding to the environment to fit
the characteristics of a new experience.
Stages of Cognitive Development- comprehensive, qualitative changes over time in
the way a child thinks. Based on experience so not every one reaches each stage at
the same age, but you have to go through each stage one by one, no skipping.
Sensorimotor stage (0-2yrs)- ïá
which children move from purely reflexive behaviour to the beginning of symbolic
thought and goal-directed behaviours. There are 6 substages in this stage, one
important substage involves learning about objects and object permanence- the
notion that entities external to the child, such as objects and people, continue to
ïg or interacting with them or out of sight. May
be a prerequisite for self-recognition.
Substage 1: basic reflex activity (0-1month)- ï
proficiency in the use of innate reflexes. Involuntary behaviors are replaced by
behaviors that are similar in form but are controlled voluntarily. Object concept-
look only at object directly in front.
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Substage 2: Primary Circular Reactions (1-4months)- behaviors in which infants
repeat and modify actions that focus on their own bodies and that are pleasurable
and satisfying. (thumb sucking repeatedly) Object concept- no idea of object
permanence yet, if toy drops from hand, stare at hand instead of looking for toy.
Substage 3: Secondary Circular Reactions (4-8months)- behaviors focused on
engages in because they are pleasurable. (rattle shaking repeatedly) also can now
combine schemes to perform more complex behaviors. Object concept- some
awareness of object permanence, they try to track down objects but cover it
Substage 4: Coordination of Secondary Schemata (8-12months)- ï
combination of different schemes to achieve a specific goal. The beginning of
problem solving behavior, moving one toy out the way to get another. Object
concept- even completely concealed objects will be searched for, but if taken and
Substage 5: Tertiary Circular Reactions (12-18months)- behaviors in which
infants experiment with the properties of external objects and try to learn how
objects respond to various actions. Instead of repeating exact behaviors, they now
perform similar äòó
Piaget called them. Object concept- still problems with looking for something when
you put it somewhere else but there not as puzzled. (invisible displacement is what
Substage 6: Inventing New means by mental combination (18-24months)-
children begin to combine schemes mentally, thus relying less on physical trial and
error. Also the appearance of Symbolic thought- the use of mental images to
represent people, objects, and events. No longer limited to physically exploring,
manipulating, and acting on objects. Symbolic thought proven by new language
abilities and Deferred imitation- mimicry of an action some time after having
observed it, requires that the child has stored mental image of the action. Object
Concept- Full grasp of object permanence and they can now locate unseen objects
no matter how many times its displaced. Renee Baillargeon showed that even 3.5-
month infants could be aware of object permanence since they looked longer at an
impossible event vs possible event. (involved watching a car roll down a ramp)
Core Knowledge systems- ways of reasoning about ecologically important objects
and events, such as the solidity and continuity of objects. (event knowledge and laws
of physics) research relied on violation of expectation method. 4.5 months looked
longer at unexpected occlusion events, 7.5 months looked longer at containment
events. These methods are widely debated; point is that Piaget may be wrong about
how early some abilities appear. They may have object knowledge early on, but
ïw to plan and problem solve yet.
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