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Chapter 7

PSY210H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Active Child

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Amy Finn

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PSY210: Chapter 7 - Conceptual Development
Concepts: general ideas that organize objects, events, qualities ore relation sons on the
basis of some similarity
nature & nurture: children’s concepts reflect the interaction b/w specific experiences
and biological predispositions
active child: from infancy onwards, children reflect their active attempts to make sense
of the world
how changes occurs: what concepts children form but also the processes by which
they form them
sociocultural context: concepts we form are influenced by the society in which we live
Understanding Who or What:
Wellman and Gelman:
Young children organize their knowledge of things in the world into 3 informal theories:
1. theory of physics (inanimate objects)
2. theory of psychology (ppl)
3. theory of biology (other living things)
Shares 3 important characteristics with formal scientific theories
1. identify fundamental units for dividing all objects and events into a few basic
2. explain many phenomena in terms of a few fundamental principles
3. explain events in terms of unobservable cause
Categorization of Objects in Infancy:
Early categories of objects are based in large part on perceptual similarity, especially
similarity in the shapes of the objects
perceptual categorization: group together objects that have similar
Categorization of Objects Beyond Infancy: By age 2 or 3 years, children form category
hierarchies: animal/dog/poodle etc
category hierarchies: categories that are related by set-subset relations
superordinate level: most general lvl within a category hierarchy such as animal
in animal/dog/poodle
subordinate level: most specific level within a category hierarchy, i.e.; poodle in
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basic level: middle level, first level learned i.e.; dog in animal/dog/poodle
Casual understanding and categorization: ask endless questions, learn cause-eect
relations (i.e.; describe something more aggressive will appear more aggressive)
Knowledge of Other ppl and oneself:
naive psychology: commonsensical lvl of understanding of other ppl and oneself
Three properties of naive psychology:
1. many of them refer to invisible mental states; no one can see a desire/belief
2. many psychological concepts are linked to one another in cause-eect
3. these concepts develop surpassingly early in life
From infancy onward, children dierentiate ppl form other animals and inanimate
objects. i.e.; infants smile more at ppl than at either rabbits or robots
Development Beyond Infancy:
theory of mind: organized understanding of how mental processes such as intensions,
desires, beliefs, perceptions and emotions influence behaviour
By age 4/5 yrs, preschoolers develop a rudimentary but well-organized theory of
mind, within which they organize their understanding of ppl’s behaviour. A key
assumption of this theory of mind is that desires and beliefs motivate specific
1. theory of mind module (TOMM) nativist approach: hypothesized brain
mechanism devoted to understanding other human beings
2. empiricists stance: more interaction w/ others more increase in understanding
human beings
3. third explanation, empiricist stance: growth of general information-processing
skills as essential to understand other ppl’s minds
false-belief problems: another person believes something to be true that the child
knows is false
Understanding that other ppl will act on their beliefs even when the beliefs are
false, is very dicult for 3 yr olds;
many children do not gain this understanding until age 5
growth of play:
pretend play: make belief activities where children create new symbolic
object substitution: object is used as smth other than itself
sociodramatic play: enact miniature dramas with other children or adults
Knowledge of Living Things:
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