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Chapter 7

Psychology 2040A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Habituation, Subitizing, Brainstem

Course Code
Laura Reid

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Chapter 7 Conceptual Development
Understanding Who or What
What kinds of things are there in the world, and How are these things related to
each other?
Dividing Objects into Categories
-They quickly come to divide the things in the world into broad categories:
inanimate objects, people, other living things
-Different types of concepts apply to different types of objects
-These distinctions among categories are important for children to make accurate
inferences about unfamiliar objects
-Children form category hierarchies, that is, categories related by set-subset
relations. (most generalgeneralmediumspecific) 2-3
Categorization of Objects in Infancy
-For infants, they perform habituation to show their categorization of objects
-They show dishabituatation among the different mammals. (cats, dog,
elephantsfish )
-Perceptual categorization, they grouping together of objects that have similar
-Infants categorize objects along perceptual dimensions, including color, size and
movement. Based on specific parts of an object rather than on the object as a
whole. As children approach their 2nd birthday, they increasingly categorize
objects on the basis of the object’s overall shape
-By the end of 1st year, infants form categories on the basis of objects’ functions
-By 2 years, infants can use their knowledge of categories to determine which
actions go with which type of objects.
Categorization of Objects Beyond Infancy
Category hierarchies
-Superordinate level(general)  Basic level (mediumusually children learn first )
Subordinate level (very specific)

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-Children some time form “child basic” categories
a. 1- and 2- year- olds label “balls” include walnuts, large beads, and round
b. doggie seem to correspond four-legged mammal
-Children progress from child-basic to standard-basic by when an experimenter
points out and explains the function of visually minor but functionally important
-Parents and others use the child’s basic-level categories as a foundation for
explaining the more specific and more general categories. It illustrates the
importance of the social world in explaining how change occurs in conceptual
Casual understanding and categorization
Understanding causes helps children learn and remember new categories
Knowledge of Other People and Oneself
-Naïve psychology, the knowledge of people that is obtained without formal
instruction, is crucial to normal human functioning
-Three concept that we all normally use to understand human behavior: desire,
beliefs, and actions
-These concepts 1. Refer to invisible mental states 2. They are all linked to each
other in cause-effect relations, 3. They develop early in life
Infants’ Naïve Psychology
-Infants can use their own experience to understand other people
-Aspects of psychological understanding emerge late in the first year and early in
the second:
a. Understanding of intention, the desire to act in a certain way
b. Joint attention, in which two or more people focus intentionally on the same
c. Social referencing, in which people look to social partners for information
regarding how to react to unusual or threatening situations

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d. Intersubjectivity, the mutual understanding that people share during
-Understanding of others’ emotion
Development Beyond Infancy
Impressive development are the understanding of other people’s minds and playing with
The growth of a theory of mind
Infants’ understanding of desires and intentions, together with their strong interest in
other people, provide the foundation upon which toddlers and preschoolers build a
theory of mind, a well-organized understanding of how the mind works and how it
influences behavior.
-An early step toward developing such a theory of mind is understanding the
connection between other people’s desires and their specific actions, this
develops around the end of the first year
-Children’s understanding that desires lead to actions is firmly established by age
2 years, but they show little understanding that beliefs also are influential until
age 3.
-By age 3, children show understanding of the relation between beliefs and
actions. They also have some knowledge of how beliefs originate (yin qi).
-3-year-olds’ understanding of the relation between people’s beliefs and their
actions is limited in important waysfalse-belief problems, in which another
person believes something to be true that the child knows is false. They have
difficulty understanding that other people act on their own beliefs, regardless of
whether the beliefs are true or false
Explaining the development of theory of mind
-Investigators in one camp propose the existence of a theory of mind module
(TOMM), a hypothesized brain mechanism devoted to understanding other
human beings. It matures over the first 5 years, producing an increasingly
sophisticated understanding of people’s minds
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