PSYC 3390 Chapter 3: Ch 3: Cognitive Functions

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6 Feb 2017

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Chapter 3: Cognitive Functions
Cognitive development: changes in how people think, problem solve, and capacity for
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget: theories of cognitive and moral development from infancy to adolescence
Wrong answers by kids of a similar age group = patterns reflected difference of how
children of various ages think about questions
Mental structure: within particular stages of development a person organizes thoughts
Cognitive-developmental approach: maturation drives development from stage to stage
Maturation as an active process, seeking info & stimulation of environment
Behaviorists disagree: environment acts on child w/ rewards and punishment
Schemes: use of organizing and interpreting info
Infants: sensory and motor schemes (touch, taste, sound)
Childhood: representational and symbolic (words, ideas, concepts, theories)
Assimilation: new info altered to fit an existing scheme
Accommodation: changing a scheme to adapt to new info
Stages of Cognitive Development in Childhood and Adolescence
Sensorimotor (0-2): learning how to coordinate activities of senses w/ motor skills
Preoperational (2-7): symbolic representation; language, imagination
Concrete Operational (7-11): use of mental operations (ex: water from fat class into tall
skinny glass is still same amt of water)
Formal Operational (11-15/20): hypothetical and theoretical mental operations available
Formal Operations in Adolescence
Complex reasoning and problem solving w/ multiple variables
Hypothetical-deductive reasoning; one variable at a time to arrive at logical conclusions
Abstract thinking
Strictly a mental concept/process; cannot be experienced directly
Logic where symbols represent an unknown (A=B, B=C; SO A=C)
Politics, morality, religion
Complex thinking
Metaphor: capable of understanding subtle more-than-one-meaning phrases
Sarcasm: more than one interpretation depending on tonal quality, phrase, context
“Thinking about thinking”
Learn and solve problems w/ self-awareness
Social topics: think about what you want others to think of you
Limitations of Piaget’s Theory
Individual Difference in Formal Operations: ignored the fact that everyone has their own
experiences - especially in timing bw the stages
Individuals apply formal operations selectively and differently
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Cdiffer widely in formal operations; although all reach it, it’s a matter of application
Cognitive Development in Emerging Adulthood: Postformal Thinking
New research indicates that cognitive development does not end at age 20 w/ Piaget
Postformal thinking: greater awareness of complexity of real-life situations
Adapting logical thinking to practical constraints of real-life situations
Adolescents exaggerate effectiveness of logical thinking; emerging adults are acutely
aware of how social and other factors must be taken into account
Adolescents rely strictly on logic: yes/no, right/wrong, lacking ambiguity/complexity
Dialectical thought: growing awareness that problems have no clear solution; 2 opposing
sides may each have pros/cons, it’s RARELY as simple as 1 or the other
Cultures promote (Chinese) or demote (America) dialectical thought vs. logical thinking
Americans have a tendency to embrace one and reject the other in contradictions
Reflective Judgement
Accuracy/logical coherence of evidence and arguments
Dualistic thinking: adolescents often see situations/issues as polarized right/wrong
Multiple thinking: emerging adults believe there are 2 or more sides to every story
Relativism: recognize multiple pts BUT compare merits of views
→ Commitment: certain pts are more valid than others; may be reevaluated
Emerging adulthood growth from education not physical maturation
The Information-Processing Approach
Understanding cognition by delineating steps involved in process
Piaget viewed cognitive development as discontinuous distinct stages
Info-processing view change as continuous, gradual, and steady
Componential approach: breaking down thinking process into components
Stimulus info that enters the senses
Selective attention: only info processed where attention is focused despite external
Divided attention: focus on many tasks; less efficient than focusing on one thing
Storing and Retrieving Info: Short-Term and Long-Term Memory
Short-Term: currently in focus of attention; limited capacity, about 30 seconds
One type involves input and storage of new info
Increases throughout adolescence until mid-teens; remains stable by 16
Working memory: current access of the memory; analyze and reason info; may be
new or called from long-term
Long-Term: attention not focused, stored, unlimited capacity w/ indefinite info
Mnemonic devices to help w/ long term memory
If new info is learned in the context of old, it is learned easier bc reader is able to
recall old info to pair w/ the new and reinforce it
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