Psychology 2040A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Object Permanence, 18 Months, Lev Vygotsky

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18 Nov 2011
Psych 2040A
Chapter 7: Cognitive Development 1 - Piaget and Vygotsky
Cognition: the activity of knowing and the processes through which knowledge is
help us understand and adapt to our environment
Cognitive Development: changes that occur in mental activities such as attending,
perceiving, learning, thinking and remembering
Piaget believed that there was a universal pattern of intellectual growth among
humans and Vygotsky believed in a sociocultural viewpoint where cognitive growth is
heavily influenced by oneʼs culture and environment.
Piagetʼs Theory of Cognitive Development
genetic epistemology: the experimental study of the development of knowledge,
developed by Piaget
study of the origin of knowledge
Piaget carefully observed his own three children; he also used the clinical method to
conduct his research (interview method where the answer of the participant will
determine what question is asked next)
What is intelligence?
intelligence: according to Piaget, it is a basic life function that help the organism
adapt to its environment
a form of equilibrium toward which all cognitive structures tend
the one goal of mine is cognitive equilibrium: to produce a balanced,
harmonious relationship between oneʼs thought processes and the environment
described the child as a constructivist: one who gains knowledge by acting or
otherwise operating on objects and events to discover their properties
children can then interpret something based on what they have
How we gain knowledge: Cognitive Schemes and Cognitive Processes
cognition develops through the refinement and transformation of mental structures, or
schemes - an organized pattern of thought or action that one constructs to interpret
some aspect of oneʼs experience
schemes are representations of reality
cognitive development is the development of schemes or structures
Piaget believed that all schemes are created through the two intellectual processes of
organization and adaptation
organization: an inborn tendency to combine and integrate available schemes into
coherent systems or bodies of knowledge
children are constantly reorganizing their schemes they have into more
complex and adaptive structures
adaptation: an inborn tendency to adjust to the demands of the environment
adaptation occurs through two complementary activities: assimilation and
assimilation: the process of interpreting new experiences by incorporating
them into existing schemes
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accommodation: the process of modifying existing schemes in order to
incorporate or adapt to new experiences
we need to accommodate first before we can assimilate
accommodating as a compliment of assimilation
Piagetʼs Stages of Cognitive Development
4 major periods of cognitive development:
sensorimotor stage (birth - 2 years)
preoperational stage (2 - 7 years)
concrete operations (7-11 years)
formal operations (11 years + )
these stages form an invariant developmental sequence - series of developments
that occur in one particular order because each development in the sequence is a
prerequisite for those appearing later
all children progress through the same stages of development
The Sensorimotor Stage (Birth to 2 Years)
sensorimotor stage: infants are relying on behavioural schemes as a means of
exploring and understanding the environment
coordinate their sensory inputs and motor capabilities
childʼs gradual transition from reflexive to a reflective human being
3 important aspects (substages) of sensorimotor development: problem-solving skills,
imitation, and the growth of object permanence
Development of Problem-Solving Skills
reflex activity (birth to 1 month): actions are confined to exercising innate
reflexes, assimilating new objects into reflexive schemes, and accommodating
their reflexes to these novel objects
primary circular reactions (1-4 months): a pleasurable response centered on
the infantʼs own body; discovered by chance; repeated over and over
ie. sucking their thumbs, cooing
secondary circular reactions (4-8 months): a pleasurable response centered on
an external object; discovered by chance; repeated over and over
ie. squeezing a rubber duck and hearing it squack
began to differentiate themselves from objects in the environment
coordination of secondary schemes (8-12 months): infants begin to coordinate
two or more action to achieve simple objectives
first sign of goal-directed behaviour
tertiary circular reactions (12-18 months): infant devises a new method of acting
on objects to reproduce interesting results
ie. instead of squeezing the rubber duck, the infant may decide to drop it and
step on it instead
reflect an infantʼs active curiosity
symbolic problem solving (18-24 months): also called inner experimentation -
the ability to solve simple problems on a mental or symbolic level without having to
rely on trial-and-error experimentation
infants begin to internalize their behavioural schemes to construct mental
symbols or images to use for future conduct
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Development of Imitation
Piaget concluded that infants have the ability to imitate any novel responses
displayed by a model until 8-12 months of age (up until goal-directed behaviour)
deferred imitation: the ability to reproduce a modelled activity that has been
witnessed at some point in the past
first appears 18-24 months of age
older infants are capable because they can construct mental images of a
modelled behaviour
some theorists believe that deferred imitation occurs much earlier on in life (6
Development of Object Permanence
object permanence: the realization that objects continue to exist when they are
no longer visible to detectable through the other senses
object permanence occurs around 8-12 months of age
A-not-B error: the tendency for 8-12 month olds to search for a hidden object
where they previously found it even after they have seen it moved to a new
heavily relies on the behavior of the infant - she does not treat the object as if it
exists independent of her own behaviour
by 18-24 months of age, infants are capable of mentally representing such invisible
displacements (moving of the object done without the awareness of the infant) and
using these inferences to guide their search for the objects - complete object
Challenges to Piagetʼs Account of Sensorimotor Development: Neo-Nativism
and Theory Theories
Piagetʼs account of infant development is generally accurate but incomplete
underestimated the infantʼs cognitive capabilities
Neo-Nativism: the idea that much cognitive knowledge, such as the object
concept, is innate, requiring little in the way of specific experiences to be
expressed, and that there are biological constraints in that the mind/brain is
designed to process certain types of information in certain ways
theorists who believe that infants are born with substantial knowledge about the
nature of the physical world, which requires much less time and experience to
be demonstrated than Piaget proposed
some argue that from the very beginning, infants are symbolic beings
babies are prepared by evolution that make sense of certain aspects of their
physical world that are universally experienced
study done on infants and their innate ability for addition (p.249)
had two sequences, the possible and impossible outcome
impossible outcome was 1+1 = 1 and possible outcome was 1+1=2
infants were shown one object and screen was raised to cover the first
object and a second object is placed
after raising the screen, if infants have some primitive concept of addition,
they should be surprised and thus spend more time looking at the
ʻimpossible outcomeʼ
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