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Chapter 8

chapter 8 b20.odt

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Diane Mangalindan

CHAPTER 8: COGNITION -cognition: the mental activity through which human beings acquire and process knowledge PIAGETS THEORY OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT -at age 10, Piaget wrote his first scholarly journal on the rare albino sparrow -in Paris, he worked in Alfred Binet's lab whereby they tried developing an intelligence test and while he was there, he noticed that childre of the same age tended to get the same answers wrong and secondly, he observed that these errors of children of a particular age differed in systematic ways from those of older or younger children –which he observed that these errors revaled distinct age-related ways of thinking and understanding the world -all in all, his theory suggests that over development, the child acquires qualitatively new ways of thinking and understanding the world -methods use were direct observation and interviews w young children PIAGET'S MAIN TENET: THE CHILD ACTIVELY SEEKS KNOWLEDGE -Piaget's theory is referred to constructivist view which is the idea that children actively create their understanding of the world as they encounter new information and have new experiences -wanted to know how children think objects work and are related to one another –felt children vary in timing of when they develop this knowledge and as a result provided approx ages at which these developmental achievements occur Cognitive Organization -a cognitive structure is an organized group of interrelated memories, thoughts, and strategies that the child uses in trying to understand a situation -Piaget built much of his theory around concept of schema(s) which 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 -key feature of children's developing knowledge is that it is organized -organization: combining simple mental structures into more complex systems • for instance, newborns possess many basic reflexes such as sucking, grasping, and looking, all of which help the infant engage w and learn about the world. Initially, these reflexes are used in v specific ways. However, overtime and w experience at sucking for example, this schema changes and the newborn sucks differently on different obkects and uses this schema for diff purposes such as exploring objects -as children grow older, they switch from using schemata based on overt activities to those based on internal mental activities which are called operations (schemas based on internal mental activities) • when a substantial number of changes in schemata occur, children change from one organized way of understanding to an entirely new way of approaching the world –which he named these changes “stages” and ultimately, human beings go through 4 stages throughout their lives CognitiveAdaption -adaption: Piaget proposed that children continually modify their schemas in relation to their own experiences (text book defines it as the ind's tendency to adjust to environmental demands) -adaption is a two way street: 1) to understand a new experience, children at first try assimilation: moulding a new experience to fit an existing way of responding to the environment so they try to apply what they already know, their existing schemas, to the new experience. However, if this does not work, then infant has to use method of accomodation which is a way of modifying an existing way of responding to the environment to fit the characteristics of a new experience THE STAGES OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT -stages of development: comprehensive, qualitative changes over time in the way a child thinks -b.c stages are built through experience, children do not reach these stages at exactly the same age however despite this, they all pass through the stages in the same order and no stage can be skipped • attainment of earlier stages are building blocks of later stages -Piaget claimed that as children pass thru these stages, they change from infants, who are incapable of mental operations and depend on sensory and motor activities to learn about the world, into emerging young adults capable of great flexibility of thought and abstract reasoning Sensorimotor Stage (0-2 years of age) -sensorimotor stage: Piaget's first stage of development, during which children move from purely reflexive behaviour to the beginnings of symbolic thought and goal-directed behaviours -bc so many shifts take place in this stage, Piaget developed 6 substages -one of the major cognitive achievements during this stage is the development of object concept— including concept of object permanence, the notion that entities external to the child, such as objects and ppl, continue to exist independent of the child's seeing or interacting w them Substage 1: Basic Reflex Activity (BIRTH to 1 MONTH) -basic reflex activity: an infant's exercise of and growing proficiency in the use of innate reflex -much of infants initial exploration of objects occurs through involuntary reflexive behaviours -in terms of object permanence concept, infants only look at objects directly infront of them Substage 2: Primary Circular Reactions (1 to 4 months_ -primary circular reactions: behaviours in which infants repeat and modify actions that focus on their own bodies and that are pleasurable and satisfying -often, these actions begin by chance such as by accidentally sucking on one's finger and realizing the pleasure of doing so, which become a repetitive behaviour -in terms of object concept: infants display no comprehension that objects have an existence of their own—when a toy vanishes they do not look for it Substage 23: Secondary Circular Reactions (4 to 8 Months) -secondary circular reactions: behaviours focused on objects outside the infant's own body that the infant repeatedly engages in b/c they are pleasurable -secondary circular reactions involve repetitive behaviours focused on external objects, hence the term secondary -for example: the infant may shake a rattle, hear an interesting sound, shake the rattle again, and so on —the baby is now capable of combining schemes, such as grasping and shaking to produce relatively more complex behaviours -in terms of object concept, infants begins to show some awareness of the permanence of objects- a child will search visually for an object if its loss interrupts the childs actions Substage 4: Coordination of Secondary Schemata (8 to 12 Months) -coordination of secondary schemata: an infant's combination of diff schemes to achieve a specific goal -the child develops more sophisticated combinations of behaviours that are directed towards objects and that reflect intentionality -this substage marks the beginning of problem solving -in terms of objects concept, child begins to search for completely concealed objects • however, altho the child will search successfully for an object hidden in one location, if the object is moved to another location as the child watches, she will continue to search in the first hiding place—this type of error is called A-not-B error b/c the child continues to search in the first hiding place, even after, in the child's presence, the object is put in a second spot, identified as B Substage 5: Tertiary Circular Reactions (12 to 18 months) -tertiary circular reactions: behaviours in which infants experiment w the properties of external objects and try to learn how objects respond to various actions • unlike earlier substages in which child repeated exact behaviours, infants are no capable of producing similar but not exact behaviours—Piaget named them “little scientists”--for example children at this age often experiment by deliberately dropping objects from diff heights to see what happens to them -in this stage, infant finally understands concept of object permanence but not invisible displacement— while playing a hiding game w his son, Laurent, Piaget hid his waych repeatedly behind one of two cushions, and Laurent consistently searched for the watch under the correct cushion. However as Laurent watched, Piaget then placed the watch in a box, put the box behind a cushion, and then secretly removed the watch from the box and put the watch behind the cushion. He then handed the box to Laurent, who opened it and found it empty. Laurent did not search for the watch behind the cushion Substage 6: Inventing New Means by Mental Combination (18 to 24 months) -inventing new means by mental combinations: in this last stage, of the sensorimotor period, children begin to combine schemes mentally, thus relying less on physical trial and error -beginning of symbolic thought emerges during this stage, they begin think symbollically and engage in internal or mental problem solving –they attain goals by mentally combining schemes • symbolic capabilities are evident in the child's emergin ability to use language and in deferred imitation which is defined as mimicry of an action some time after having observed it; requires that the child has stored a mental image of the action -object permanence concept grasped—they are able to make inferences abt the positions of unseen objects even when the objects have been hidden or displaced several times New Research Directions and Explanations of Knowledge in Infancy -there may be some other understandings about the world so fundamental to cognitive development that these, too, appear v early in life • these types of understandings are referred to as core knowledge systems which is defined as ways of reasoning about ecologically imp objects and events, such as the solidity and continuity of objects (or event knowledge) -researchers use violation-of-expectation method • Hespos and Baillargeon studied the behaviour of 4 1/3 month old infants when they were shown two types of events, one possible and one impossible, regarding the occlusion and the containment of objects. In this experiment, the infants watched as an object, a tall culinder, was either lowered behind a screen (the occlusion condition) or lowered inside a contained (the containment condition). The investigators studied two types of events, the possible or unexpected event and the impossible or unexpected event. In the expected events, the objects used to occlude or contain the cylinder were as tall as the cylinder and therefore physically able to hide the cylinder from view. In the unexpected events, the objects used to occlude or contain the culinder were shorter than the cylinder; in fact they were only half as tall as the cylinder. In the unexpected events, the cylinder was nonetheless hidden entirely from view in the two hiding conditions (a trap door was used to make this impossible event work). What did the indants fo? They looked longer at both the unexpected than at the expected events when they were in the occlusion condition but not in the containment condition. In a similar study that included other infants, 7 1/2 month olds but not 6 1/2 or 5 1/2, looked longer at both the unexpected occlusion and containment events. • These studies suggest that infants are biologically prepared to learn certain kinds of information or principles abt the world (does not mean it is innate but rather that infant is predisposed to learn critical features of env) The Preoperational Stage -major characteristic of this stage is child's development of symbolic function -preoperational stage: in this period, the symbolic function promotes the learning of language; the period is also marked by egocentricity and intuitive behavoiur, in which the child can solve problems using mental operation but cannot explain how she did so -symbolic function: the ability to use symbols, such as images, words, and gestures, to represent objects and events in the world The Preconceptual Substage (2 to 4 Years) -preconceptual substage: the first substage of Piaget's preoperational period, during which the child's thought is characterized by animistic thinking and egocentricity -animistic thinking: the attribution of life to inanimate objects -egocentrism: the tendency to view the world from one's own perspective and to have difficulty seeing things from another's viewpoint -to test child's ability to see things from another person's perspective, Piaget designed the “Three Mountain Test” • models of three mountains of varying sizes are placed on a square table, and chairs are placed around all 4 sides of the tables. The child is seated in one chair, adn the experimenter plaees a doll in the other three chairs, one at a time, asking the child each time to describe waht the dolls sees from the three diff positions. The child may select one of a set of drawings or use cardboard cutouts of the mountain to construct the doll's views. Piaget found that children could consistently identify the dolls' view from each of the three locatoins until they reached the period of concrete operations (9 or10 years old) HOWEVER contemporary researchers have found that young children can better understand the perspectives of dolls or imaginary ppl sitting in chairs 1 to 3 when mountains were more realistic, when the children are allowed to rotate small models or the mountains and when the reason for taking another's perspective is made more meaningful • another way to study children's perspective-taking abilities: Hughes devised four small rooms from among which a child doll could choose a hiding place where the police doll, from various positions around the model could not find her. Most children b/w 3 1/2 and 5 yrs of age were able to provide correct answers to questions about this scenario The Intuitive Substage (4 to 7 Years) -intuitive substage: the second substage of the preoperational period, during which the child begins to solve problems by means of specific mental operations but cannot yet explain how she arrives at the solution -child has difficulty understanding part-whole relations –for example: a child is given 7 toy dogs and 3 toy cats—a total of 10 animals. If the child is asked whether there are more dogs or more cats, he can answer correctly that there are more dogs. However, if the child is then asked if there are more dogs than there animals, the child responds that there are more dogs. The Main Limitations of Preoperational Thought -main limitation of this stage is children are semi-logical -evident when children perform conservation task: the understanding that altering an object's or a substances appearance does not change its basic attributes or properties -children under object identity --”Is the water in the different-shape glasses the same water that was in the two original glasses of ths same shape?” -children can conserve identity or quality of object but not the amount of quantity of objects—they are semi logical -Piaget explains three reasons for the semi-logic: 1) reversibility: child's inability to understand reversibility means that the child cannot mentally reverse or undo a given action 2) ends-over-means focus: the child focuses on the end states rather than the means by which the end states were obtained. As a result, he tends to overlook the process or transformations by which the change occurs 3) centration: centring one's attention on only one dimension or characteristic of an object or situation -in western societies, children achieve conservation of liquids, mass, and length by about age 6— however understanding conservation of weight, area, volume takes somewhat longer, around age 9 or 10 The Stage of Concrete Operations (7 to 11 or 12) -concrete operations stage: period in which child acquires such concepts as conservation and classification and can reason logically -however their thinking is tied to concrete reality, that is, they can solve problems only if the objects necessary for problem solution are physically present—if verbally, we tell person of this age “Melissa is taller than Zoe and Zoe is taller than Fabiana, who is the tallest of the three?, they will face difficulties answering this if these girls in the question are not physically present -children also advance in ability to classify or sort objects according to combinations of several attributes -many researchers oppose Piaget's proposition about mental operations becoming a barrier to finding solution to those problems and believe that in tests of inference, like judging the relative heights of several sticks based on a verbal statement, what poses difficulty for them is not the lack of physical stimuli but the lack of memory capacity • however researchers have shown that infants can classify objects at a much earlier age and in a more sophisticated fashion that Piaget believed possible -culture important in determining what concepts will be learned and when -when cultures emphasize similar concepts, the timing of this emphasis (in terms of when opportunities are provided for children that support the development of these skills) may vary • this is because ppl develop skills and concepts that are useful in the daily activities required in their eco-cultural • so therefore, culture alters the cognitive experiences children have and the rate at which children learn certain types of knowledge The Stage of Formal Operations -formal operations stage: the period in which the child becomes capable of flexible and abstract thought, complex reasoning and hypothesis testing (and the ability to entertain many possible alternatives when solving problems) -solve problems that have no basis reality -young adolescents are able to think of and contrast both real and ideal states of the world—they can consider diff ways of arranging the world -this is the stage that science fiction becomes of interest -also, they are able to review several possible alternatives or hypotheses in a problem-solving situation -not everyone in all societies reach the period of formal operations and achieve the flexibility in problem solving that Piaget assoc'd w this period -this stage is strongly influenced by culture • in cultures that do not emphasize symbolic skills or in which educational experiences are limited, the stage of formal operations may occur late in develo
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