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PSYC 2110 Chapter Notes -Mental Representation, Object Permanence, Cognitive Development

Course Code
PSYC 2110
Gillian Wu

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Cognitive development: changes that occur in a child’s mental abilities over
the course of their lives
Created genetic epistemology: the experimental study of the origin of k/l
o Originally he studied his children and then moved on to larger
samples of children in how they solve various problems
Intelligence: basic life fn that helps an organism adapt to their environment
o Goal of intelligence is to form equilibrium b/w ones environment and
their thought process (known as cognitive equilibrium) achieving
this equilibrium is known as equilibration
Children are interactionist in this case, since there is conflict b/w ones
internal mental scheme and their environment
Children are considered constructivist: they are individuals that act on
novel objects/events and gain some understanding of their essential features
(construct their k/l on their own)
o They can only construct their reality w/ what k/l is available to them
Cognition develops through the refinement of ones schemes (unobservable
mental systems that underlie intelligence)
o They are ones representation of reality ppl interpret and organize
their experiences w/ their schemes
Schemes are formed by 2 inborn intellectual processes:
Organization: child combine their existing schemes into new, more complex
intellectual schemes
The goal of organizing of ones schemes is for adaptation (the process of
adjusting to the demands of the environment)
o Adaptation takes places using assimilation and accommodation
Assimilation: interpreting new experiences w/ the schemes one already
posses i.e. thinking all four legged animals are dogs
Accommodation: process of modifying existing schemes to account for new
o The goal of using ass and acc is to gain a state of equilibrium b/w ones
cognitive structures and their environment
Invariant developmental sequence: thought that all children progress in
these stages in the same order (cant be skipped bc you need one to get to the
o The ages that children go through the stages can differ and this is
based on peoples individual differences (can be due to cultural and
environmental factors)

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SENSORIMOTOR STAGE: from birth 2 years
Use senses and motor capacities to get to know the environment
Three important aspects of this stage: problem-solving skills, imitation and
growth of object concept
There are 6 sub-stages to this stage (encompasses how children go from
reflexive to reflective individuals
1. Reflex activity: first month of life reflexes are shown to ass to
new objects (sucking on different things) and acc to things that re
novel objects
2. Primary circular reaction: the first motor habits to appear by an
infant that they continue to do (sucking their thumb); these
actions are satisfying, so they will continue to repeat it
3. Secondary circular reaction: doing things to novel objects by
using their body (squeezing of a rubber ducky) they now
differentiate themselves from other objects so they find them of
4. Coordination of secondary schemes: infants start coordinating 2
or more actions to achieve an objective (i.e. lifting a cushion to get
a toy [by grasping on the toy]) earliest form of goal-directed
5. Tertiary circular reactions: create new methods to solve
problems start to have a motivation to understand how things
6. Mental representation: start to perform inner experimentation:
trying to problem solve by visualizing behaviours before doing
Imitation starts at around 8-12 months, but is very imprecise at the
Deferred imitation can occur w/ older infants, bc they can now have the
capacity to store memories and then retrieve them later on Piaget felt that
deferred imitation occurs a lot later in life then we now know it does: HE
Object permanence: objects continue to exist even if they are no longer
visible (or detectable by other senses)
o Children until 4 months do not have this ability and if something is
hidden from view, they will eventually loose interest in it
o Even by 4-8 their ability is still selective; if something is partially
hidden, they are likely to retrieve it, but if its still completely hidden,
they will loose interest in it
o By 8 months they will use the A-not-B error: if somethings hidden in
a spot, they will search and find it, but when the same object is hidden
somewhere else they child will go back to the original spot they
thought it was (they think their behavior will determine where
something is found)
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