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Chapter 1

Infancy Chapter 1 notes.doc

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYB32H3
Professor
Letergesse
Semester
Winter

Description
Chapter 1- Definitions, theories, and plan of the book -She is born with some specific abilities to predict what people can do. She quickly learns that people can change their minds and may make mistakes. These capacities are the result of some innate foundations or predispositions infants have, that facilitate their interactions with people. Defining a Theory of Mind -By about 4 years of age, children produce a variety of internal state terms when describing peoples actions, such as believing, thinking, and feeling. It has been suggested that the use of these terms implies that children hold complex mental states that allow them to attribute internal representations to people (e.g. John believes that the apple is in the cupboard,. Three-year-olds do not readily understand or talk about beliefs; instead, they focus on the persons desire (e.g. John wants an apple). Even 2-year-olds understand that people want or desire things, and that therefore they will act to get these things. Consequently, Wellman has argued that before becoming belief- desire psychologists, young children are simple desire psychologists. Because these developmental changes from primitive to complex understandings of emotions, desires, and beliefs seem like actual theory changes, this phenomenon is called the infants developing Theory of Mind (ToM). For instance, when watching people directing their attention and emotion toward objects in the environment, infants with a primitive understanding of mental states are aware that these cues may signal the persons intention to act on the object, but they do not understand that people may have mental representations about the object (e.g. that the person thinks that the apple is sweet). Although much work has been done to investigate the childs understanding of beliefs and desires. Defining intentions Socio-cognitive view During the first two years of life, infants progress from understanding other persons as intentional agents, to understanding that others have intentions that may differ from their own, and finally to an understanding that not all observable acts are intentional (accidental versus purposeful acts etc.). By the third and fourth year, infants developing Theory of Mind goes through similar hierarchical levels: from understanding that other people have thoughts and beliefs, to understanding that these thoughts and beliefs may differ from their own, to an awareness that people may have beliefs that do not match reality. The first two years infants do not understand that people have thoughts (can represent things); they only understand that people are driven by concrete goals and purposes (have simple mental states). Socio-cognitive psychologists have defined intentionality as actions or behaviors that are about things, e.g. that are directed toward a goal. Some theorists propose that actions that are directed toward things are driven by mental states (e.g. the infant has a plan in its head before it is behaviorally executed); whereas others put forth a purely behavioral or perceptual explanation (e.g. the infants behavior is a response to a particular stimulus). The development of mental states in infants as beginning at birth. Most cognitive developmental psychologists do not argue about whether the infants behavior is driven by mental states. Instead, the debate surrounds the age of onset of an awareness of mental states. From birth infants are aware that they are the object of peoples attention and that some months later they become aware that a third object (in addition to the infant) becomes the focus of attention of their communicative partner. Thus, from very early on in life, infants reveal that they are related to objects and that they perceive others to be related to objects. During the dyadic period infants interpret peoples attention as an intention to communicate; if they dont, infants get upset. During the triadic period, infants interpret peoples attention as an awareness of the external world, and may point to share interesting aspects of this world. Thus, these authors argue that infants have simple mental states from birth that allow them to perceive peoples behavior to be about things. If so, then the development of mental states is a continuous process and an understanding of more complex mental states is constructed with experience. theybelieve that an awareness of intentions in others occurs toward the end of the first year when infants begin to use several means to achieve a goal. Becoming intentional themselves leads infants to perceive intentions in others as a result of biological abilities to perceive others like me. More classically cognitive and prepared learning theorists propose that an understanding of the self as an intentional agent only lays the foundation for an understanding that the other is an intentional agent who has internal experiences, such as emotions, beliefs, and desires. These theorists argue that the infants sociocognitive development is the result of innate biological processes (e.g. assimilation, accommodation, and interiorization) that prepares the infant to act intentionally around 8 10 months and to perceive others as intentional agents around 18 24 months. The strength of the discontinuous positions is that intentionality is definitely present by 1 or 2 years of age. The three weaknesses are that (1) there is no discussion of the mechanisms that bring about developmental changes in behavior (e.g. how does the infant proceed from being a behaviorist to becoming a psychologist during the first year of life), (2) there is no explanation or description on what the origin of mental state awareness is (e.g. it is suddenly there), and (3) the role social interaction in the development of an awareness of mental states plays. Innate inter-subjectivity theorists There is a large body of evidence indicating that infants from the beginning of life show a special sensitivity to communication and engage in bi-directional affective interactions with their caregivers that are characterized by a turn-taking structure during which both infants and caregiver participate in emotional sharing. For instance, Legerstee et al. (1987) showed in a longitudinal study (from 3 to 53 weeks) that, already by 5 weeks, infants had specific expectations about the communicative behavior of their partners. Infants were presented with conditions where communicative people and interactive dolls responded contingently to the eye movements of the infants, but also with conditions where the person remained passive and the doll remained immobile. Already by 5 weeks, infants expected people to communicate with them when in face to face sit
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