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University of Toronto Scarborough
Mark Schmuckler

Psyb20- Ch 8 Cognition : the term used to describe the mental activity through which human beings acquire, remember and learn to use knowledge -it includes perception, attention, learning memory and reasoning -research on it shows how and when intellectual abilities and knowledge of the world first emerge in childhood and then change as a person grows older Piagets theory of cognitive development -Piaget worked with Binet the one who came up with IQ test -piaget noticed that children the same age tended to get the same answers wrong and that the errors of children of a particular age differed in systematic ways from those of older or younger children -piaget found that over development, the child acquires qualitatively new ways of thinking and understanding the world Piagets main tenet: the child actively seeks knowledge -children play an active role in acquiring knowledge, so says piaget in comparison to behavior where children passively wait for info -when children encounter new info, they actively try to fit it in with the knowledge they already possess, they construct their own understanding-constructivist view -children vary in the timing of when they develop this knowledge Cognitive organization -over the course of dev, knowledge of the world gets organized into increasingly more complex cognitive structures -a schema is an organized unit of knowledge, and together a bunch of them form the knowledge base that a person uses to understand and interact with the environment -children’s developing knowledge is that it is organized -organization: entails the combination of simple mental structures into a more complex system -however over time schemas change, and they may use the schma for different purposes ex: sucking, earlier in life is used for feeding needs, can be used for something else later -as children grow older and gain experience, they shift gradually from using schemata based on overt physical activities to those based on internal mental activites, piaget called em operations Cognitive adaptation -children notify their schemas in relation to their own experiences and referred to this process as adaptation -determining how new information fits with existing knowledge, and how existing knowledge may need to change to incorporate new information -assimilation: applying their existing schemes to the new experience -accomodation: modifying strategy for exploring objects, modified an existing scheme to fit the characteristics of the new situation The stages of cognitive development -small changes in understanding and interacting with the world eventually result in large-scale changes referred to as stages of development -children do not reach these stages at exactly the same age, but they pass through the stages in the same order The sensorimotor stage -children build on basic reflexes and from these origins form a way of understanding and interacting with the world -one of the major cognitive achievements during the sensorimotor stages is development of the object concept -we are not born with knowledge of objects, rather the child must construct this knowledge over the course of his experience with objects -object permanence: the realization that objects continue to exist even when they are out of sight  Substage1: basic reflex activity -they become more proficient in the use of their innate reflexes -initial exploration of objects occurs through involuntary reflexive behaviors -involuntary behaviors are replaced by behaviors that are similar in form but are controlled voluntarily  Substage 2: primary circular reactions -infants produce repetitive behaviors that are focused on the infant’s own body -babies begin to repeat and modify actions that they find pleasurable -infants display no comprehension that objects have an existence of their own, ex: if a tow drops from their hand they will stare at their hand rather than follow the toy  Substage 3: secondary circular reactions -becomes interested in making things happen outside his body -it involved repetitive behaviors focused on external objects, hence the term secondary, and he repeatedly engages in behaviors that please him -combining schemes to produce more complex behaviors -infants begins to show more awareness of the permanence of objects ex: he will anticipate the path of a moving object by looking at a location where it can be expected to appear -he will search for partially visible object, but no a covered one  Substage 4: coordination of secondary schemata -sophisticated combinations of behaviors that are directed toward objects and that reflect intentionality -child is able to plan deliberately to attain a goal, such by combining schemes -this substage marks the beginning of problem solving behavior -object concept: begin to search for completely concealed objects but demonstrate the a not b error because the child continues to search in the first hiding place, identified as A, even after in the childs presecen, the object is put in a second spot, B  Substage 5: tertiary circular reactions -they begin to experiment with external objects -trial and error methods to learn more about the properties of objects and to solve problems -infants are now capable of producing similar but not exact behaviors, and they are known as little scientists ex: they often experiment by deliberately dropping objects from different heights to see what happens to them. -understanding of the permanence of an object hidden from view, but they still have difficulty following more than one displacement of an object -understanding invisible displacement was not within grasp  Substage 6: inventing new means by mental combination -symbolic thought appears and children think symbolically and engage in internal or mental problem solving -they attain a goal by mentally combining schemas and use language in deferred imititation, in which the child mimics an action some time after observing it -fully acquire the concept of object permanence and they are able to make inferences about the positions of unseen objects even when the object have been hidden or displaced several times New research directions and explanation of knowledge in infancy -piaget measured only the child’s manual search behavior -many investigators have argued that because of developmental limitations, such as poor hand eye coordination, some children who have acquired the object concept may be unable to reveal it in manual search activities -to try to reveal information about infant’s understanding of objects before they are capable of manually searching for objects -**refer to textbook page 306 for box car experiment -infants know a great deal more about objects than Piaget thought they did - there may be some other understandings about the world so fundamental to cognitive dev that these too appear very early in life -core knowledge systems -early event knowledge has relied primarily on the violation of expectation -infants ma learn general principles quite early but be unable for some time to grasp the subtleties of these principles -this argument proposes that infants are biologically prepared to learn certain kinds of info or principles about the world -the human infant is predisposed to learn some critical features of her environment quite rapidly -longer looking of infants indicates that the infant can discriminate between two events but does not tell us why the infant looks longer at some information than at others -in order to solve some of these problems, children need more object knowledge, they also need to know how to solve problems related to objects, such as searching for objects when they are moved -searching for objects requires that the child be able to create a plan that coordinated her own actions with her predictions about how the object will move -piaget did not capture the entirety of the young infant’s cognitive capacities, he provided the first detailed description of cognitive development in the first two years of life The preoperational stage -development of the symbolic function, or the ability to use symbols such as words, images and gestures to represent objects and events mentally  The preconceptual substage -emergence of symbolic capabilities is evident in children’s rapid dev of language, their great interest in imaginative play and their increasing use of deferred imitation, as wel as animistic thinking and egocentrism -animistic thinking: tends to attribute life to inanimate objects, they child may believe that plants feel pain when he picks off a flower petal -piaget used to test the limits of children;s animistic thought, such as the sun the moon and wing, but these are often open to magical interpretations -massey and gelman found that when they used simple and familiar objects, children as young as 4 years old were quite good at deciding whether animate objects such as mammals, or inanimate objects such as statues could move on their own -tend to view the world from their own perspective and to have difficulty seeing things from another person;s point of view this is known as egocentrism -piaget used the three mountain test, that wasn’t really accurate because he used simple models of mountains that lacked clear features that could be used to differentiate one view from the next. Then reconstructing the display or choosing the appropriate drawings may be beyond the ability of a young child. And choosing the correct perspective may simply not be an activity that makes sense to young children -borke obtained diff results: he placed familiar things, such as snowcaps, trees, on the sides of the mountains to make them more distinctive and asked the children to rotate a small model of the display to present the appropriate view rather than reconstruct the display or choose from drawings -young children were able to identify the correct perspective from each of the 3 diff positions , this made the purpose of the task more understandable for the children -when the task is made more comprehensible to children, they are able to perform much better than Piaget claimed  The intuitive substage -the child is not aware of the principles she has used in performing these operations, they can solve problems but can not explain why she solved them in a particular way, they have a difficulty understanding part-whole relations -he is unable to focus simultaneously on a part of the set of animals, and on the whole set of animals -developmentalists have criticized suggesting that the way he posed his questions confused children, smith used simpler questions -similar findings have been produced by changing from a verbal to a multiple choice or forced choice response format The main limitations of preoperational thought -the main limitation in preoperational thinking is that the child is semi-logical -conservation: the child must recognize that even when an object’s appearance is altered in some way, the object’s basic attributes or properties remain the same -preoperational children understand object identity, a qualitative attribute of objects -preoperational children have great difficulty with object quantity question and respond that the amounts of liquid in each of the two different shaped glasses are now different -these children can conserve the identity or quality but not the amount or quantity of objects- they are semi logical -piaget proposed that preoperational children’s semi-logical reasoning is explained by 3 characteristics: inability to understand reversibility, the tendency to focus on the end state of an action and centration (related to egocentrism) -inability to understand reversibility: means that the child cannot mentally reverse or undo a given action Ends over means focus: child focuses on the end states rather than the means by which the end states were obtained, tends to verlook the process of transformations -centration: leads preoperational children to centre their attention only on one dimension of an object or situation -in western societies,children achieve conservation of liquids by 6 and 7, conservcation of weight by 9-10 and after 11 -cultural variation in the onset of these particular conservation abilities has been linked to the experiences children have with these particular abilities in different communities The stage of concrete operations -children understand reversibility and are able to attend to more than one dimension of a problem at a time -able to conserve quantity and classify or group things in a logical way, but their thinking is tied to concrete reality, they can solve problems only If the objects necessary for the problem solution are physically present -classify or sort objects according to
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