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Chapter 6

Chapter 6.docx

20 pages41 viewsWinter 2012

Course Code
Psychology 2410A/B
Sandra Hessels

of 20
Cognitive Development: Piagetian, Core Knowledge, and Vygotskian
Perspectives - Piaget's Cognitive-Developmental Theory
-because Piaget viewed children as discovering, or constructing, virtually
all knowledge about their world through their own activity, his theory is
described as a constructivist approach to cognitive development
Basic Characteristics of Piaget's Stages
-the stages provide a general theory of development, in which all aspects
of cognition change in an integrated fashion, following a similar course
-the stages are invariant; they always occur in a fixed order, and no stage
can be skipped
-the stages are universal; they are assumed to characterize children
-Piaget regarded the order of development as rooted in human biology,
reflecting the brain's increasing adeptness at analyzing and interpreting
experiences common to most children throughout the world; he
emphasized that individual differences in genetic and environmental
factors affect the speed with which children move through the stages
Piaget's Ideas About Cognitive Change
-according to Piaget, specific psychological structures called schemes -
organized ways of making sense of experience - change with age; first
schemes are sensorimotor action patterns
-soon, instead of just acting on objects, the toddler shows evidence of
thinking before she acts; for Piaget, this change marks the transition from
a sensorimotor approach to the world to a cognitive approach based on
mental representations - internal depictions of information that the
mind can manipulate; our most powerful mental representations are
images - mental pictures of objects, people, and spaces - and concepts,
categories in which similar objects or events are grouped together; by
thinking in concepts and labelling them, we become more efficient
thinkers, organizing our diverse experiences into meaningful, manageable,
and memorable units
-in Piaget's theory, two processes account for this change from sensoriotor
to representational schemes and for further changes in representaitonal
schemes from childhood to adulthood: adaptation and organization
Adaptation - adaptation involves building schemes through direct
interaction with the environment; it consists of two complementary
activities: assimilation and accomodation; during assimilation, we use
our current schemes to interpret the external world; in accomodation,
we create new schemes or adjust old ones after noticing that our current
way of thinking does not capture the environment completely.
According to Piaget, the balance between assimilation and accomodation
varies over time; when children are not changing much, they assimilate
more than they accomodate - a steady, comfortable state that Piaget
called cognitive equilibrium; during times of rapid cognitive change,
children are in a state of disequilibrium, or cognitive discomfort; realizing
that new information does not match their current schemes, they move
back toward assimilation, exercising their newly changed structures until
they are ready to be modified again.
Piaget's term for this back-and-forth movement between equilibrium and
disequilibrium is equilibration; each time equilibration occurs, more
effective schemes are produced.
Organization - a process that occurs internally, apart from direct contact
with the environment; once children form new schemes, they rearrange
them, linking them with other schemes to create a strongly interconnected
cognitive system.
The Sensorimotor Stage: Birth to 2 Years
-the sensorimotor stage spans the first two years of life
-the circular reaction provides a special means of adapting their first
schemes; it involves stumbling onto a new experience caused by the
baby's own motor activity; the reaction is "circular" because, as the infant
tries to repeat the event again and again, a sensorimotor response that
originally occurred by chance becomes strengthened into a new scheme
-the circular reaction initially centres on the infant's own body but later
turns outward, toward manipulation of objects; in the second year, it
becomes experiemental and creative, aimed at producing novel effects in
the environment; this immaturity in inhibition seems to be adaptive,
helping to ensure that new skills will not be interrupted before they
Sensorimotor Development
-in Substage 1, babies suck, grasp, and look in much the same way, no
matter what experiences they encounter
Repeating Chance Behaviours - around 1 month, as babies enter
Substage 2, they start to gain voluntary control over their actions through
the primary circular reaction, by repeating chance behaviours largely
motivated by basic needs; babies in this substage also begin to vary their
behaviour in response to environmental demands.
During Substage 3, from 4 to 8 months, infants sit up and become skilled
at reaching for and manipulating objects - motor achievements that
strengthen the secondary circular reaction, through which they try to
repeat interesting events in the surrounding environment that are cuased
by their own actions.
Intentional Behaviour - in Substage 4, 8- to 12-month-olds combine
schemes into new, more complex action sequences; 8- to 12-month-olds
can engage in intentional, or goal-directed, behaviour, coordinating
schemes deliberately to solve simple problems.
Object permanence - the understanding that objects continue to exist
when they are out of sight; this awareness is not yet complete; babies still
make the A-not-B search error: if they reach several times for an object
at one hiding place (A), then see it moved to another (B), they still search
for it in the first hiding place (A).
In Substage 5, from 12 to 18 months, the tertiary circular reaction, in
which toddlers repeat behaviours with variation, emerges.
Mental Representation - in Substage 6, sensorimotor development
culminates in mental representation; one sign of this capacity is that 18- to
24-month-olds arrive at solutions to problems suddenly rather than
through trial-and-error behaviour, apparently experimenting with actions
inside their heads - evidence that they can mentally represent experiences.
Representaiton also enables older toddlers to solve advanced object-
permanence problems involving invisible displacement; second, it permits
deferred imitation - the ability to remember and copy the behaivour of
models who are not present; it makes possible make-believe-play, in
which children act out everyday and imaginary activities.
Follow-Up Research on Infant Cognitive Development
-to discover what infants know about hidden objects and other aspects of
physical reality, researchers often use the violation-of-expectation

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