chapter 7 - page 4

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18 Dec 2011
oAppearance/reality distinction: ability to keep the true properties or characteristics of
an object in mind despite the deceptive appearance that the object has assumed; notably
lacking among young children during the Preconceptual period
Dual encoding: representing an object in more than one way at a time (not yet
proficient in this at this stage)
oCentration (centred thinking): the tendency of preoperational children to attend to
one aspect of a situation to the exclusion of others; contrasts with decentration (they
attend to the most noticeable feature)
oConservation: recognition that the properties of an object or substance do not change
when its appearance is altered in some superficial way
oDecentration: the ability of concrete operational children to consider multiple aspects of
a stimulus or situation; contrasts with centration
oReversibility: the ability to reverse or negate an action by mentally performing the
opposite action (negation)
Does Piaget Underestimate the Preoperational Child?
oNew evidence on egocentrism
His famous 3 mountains test= too difficult
Children look much less egocentric when provided with less complicated visual
He was still right in claiming that young children often rely on their own
perspectives and thus fail to make accurate judgments about other people’s
motives, desires and intentions…assume if they know something, others will too
oAnother look at children’s reasoning
Some preschool children do occasionally display animistic responses, these
judgments stem not so much from a general belief that moving inanimates have
lifelike qualities as from the presumption that unfamiliar objects that appear to
move on their own are alive
oCan preoperational children conserve?
Identity training: an attempt to promote conservation by teaching
nonconservers to recognize that a transformed object or substance is the same
object or substance, regardless of its new appearance
Contrary to Piaget’s viewpoint, many preoperational children can learn to
conserve, and their initial understanding of this law of nature seems to depend
more on their ability to recognize identities than on their use of reversibility and
The Development of Theory of Mind (TOM)
oTOM: a person’s concepts of mental activity; used to refer to how children conceptualize
mental activity and how they attribute intention to and predict the behaviour of others
oBelief-desire reasoning: the process whereby we explain and predict what people do
based on what we understand their desires and belief’s to be
oOrigins of a Belief-Desire Theory
False-belief task: a type of task used in theory-of-mind studies, in which the
child must infer that another person does not possess knowledge that he or she
possesses (that is, that other person holds a belief that is false)
Between 3 and 4 years of age is when children normally achieve a much richer
understanding of mental life and more clearly understand how beliefs and desires
motivate their own behaviour and also the behaviour of other people
oHow does a theory of mind originate?
Executive functions: cognitive abilities involved in planning, executing, and
inhibiting actions (3 year olds don’t have this fail the false-belief test)
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