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PIAGET: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT. psychlotron.org.uk SOME RECURRING QUESTIONS... How can we find out what infants and children are thinking? How is a child’s.

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Presentation on theme: "PIAGET: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT. psychlotron.org.uk SOME RECURRING QUESTIONS... How can we find out what infants and children are thinking? How is a child’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 PIAGET: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

2 psychlotron.org.uk SOME RECURRING QUESTIONS... How can we find out what infants and children are thinking? How is a child’s thinking different from an adult’s? Does nature or nurture have more influence on children’s development? Can a child’s rate of development be accelerated?

3 psychlotron.org.uk JEAN PIAGET ( ) The first person to study cognitive development scientifically and systematically. The most influential theory of cognitive development.

4 psychlotron.org.uk ADAPTATION: SCHEMA The process by which the child changes its mental models of the world to match more closely how the world actually is. Piaget argued that children actively construct knowledge themselves as they interact with new objects or experiences.

5 psychlotron.org.uk COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT As the child gets older its schemas become... More numerous More complex More interconnected More abstract

6 psychlotron.org.uk COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT The child’s understanding develops because... Its brain is developing (maturation) It is exploring the world around it (experience)

7 psychlotron.org.uk 7 SOURCES OF CONTINUITY Three processes work together from birth to propel development forward Assimilation: The process by which people translate incoming information into a form they can understand Accommodation: The process by which people adapt current knowledge structures in response to new experiences Equilibration: The process by which people balance assimilation and accommodation to create stable understanding

8 psychlotron.org.uk 8 DISCONTINUITIES The discontinuous aspects of Piaget’s theory are distinct, hierarchical stages Central properties of Piaget’s stage theory: Qualitative change Broad applicability across topics and contexts Brief transitions Invariant sequence Hypothesized that children progress through four stages of cognitive development, each building on the previous one

9 psychlotron.org.uk STAGE THEORIES Development is discontinuous Each stage is qualitatively distinct The sequence is universal and invariant Piaget said that children’s cognitive development unfolds in stages. These statements are true of all stage theories of development. What might they mean as applied to cognitive development? What does a stage theory imply about development?

10 psychlotron.org.uk GRADUALIST VS. STAGE THEORIES Psychological attribute Time How might the line representing a stage theory be different? Abrupt change Relative stability Gradual change over time

11 psychlotron.org.uk 11 A CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH Jean Piaget’s theory remains the standard against which all other theories are judged Often labeled constructivist because it depicts children as constructing knowledge for themselves Children are seen as Active Learning many important lessons on their own Intrinsically motivated to learn

12 psychlotron.org.uk Piaget’s stage theory Children’s ability to understand, think about and solve problems in the world develops in a stop-start manner. At each stage of development, the child’s thinking is qualitatively different from the other stages. All children go through the same stages in the same order (but not all at the same rate)

13 psychlotron.org.uk Piaget’s Stage Theory of Cognitive Development StageCharacteristicsTypical Age Sensorimotor stageSubstages 1-3Ability to deal with situations is limited to: i) Having sensations and producing actions; ii) The ‘here and now’ 0-8 months Substages 4-6Intentional actions emerge; trial and error behaviour; object concept – object permanence develops; simple pretend play; language acquisition 8-24 months Preoperational stagePreconceptual period Symbolic thought develops; egocentrism; animism; centration 2-4 years Intuitive periodJudgements based on appearance not logical thought; less egocentric; unable to conserve 4-7 years Concrete operational stageConservation; seriation; transitivity; class inclusion 7-11 years Formal operational stageAbstract concepts; hypothetical thinking; flexibility in thinking 12+ years

14 psychlotron.org.uk SENSORIMOTOR STAGE (0-2 YEARS) In the first stage, the child ‘thinks’ by sensing (‘sensori-’) and by performing actions on (‘-motor’) the world around it. It does not think by manipulating mental representations, like an adult does. Characterised by profound egocentrism. Does not distinguish between itself and the environment. Lack of object permanence. (Piaget argued object permanence starts to develop around 8 months)

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16 GENERAL SYMBOLIC FUNCTION During the sensorimotor stage a range of cognitive abilities develop. These include: – Object permanence – Self-recognition – Deferred imitation – Representational play They relate to the emergence of the general symbolic function, which is the capacity to represent the world mentally

17 psychlotron.org.uk 17 OBJECT PERMANENCE Objects are tied to infant’s awareness of them “out of sight, out of mind” Hidden toy experiment 4 months: no attempt to search for hidden object 4-9 months: visual search for object 9 months: search for and retrieve hidden object A-not-B task (Diamond, 1985) 9 months: A/B error after 1/2 second delay 12 months: 10 second delay needed to produce error

18 psychlotron.org.uk OBJECT PERMANENCE Typical ageSearch behaviour Before 8mDoes not search for hidden object at all. 8-12mSearches for hidden object in initial hiding place even if the object is moved to a second hiding place while the child watches (the ‘A not B error’) 12-18mSearches in most recent hiding place.

19 psychlotron.org.uk OBJECT PERMANENCE ‘Peekaboo’ is played across diverse cultures (Fernald & O’Neill, 1993). Recorded in as diverse communities as the US, Japan and Africa. 3-5 months – babies laughs and smiles as the adult’s face moves in and out of view 5-8 months – baby shows anticipation. 12 months – babies start to imitate the game – then it is the adult who acts more like an idiot.

20 psychlotron.org.uk Piaget’s Sensorimotor According to Piaget – the journey from reflex behaviour to thought is long and slow. For 18 months or so, babies learn only from their movements (according to Piaget) and do not make the breakthrough to conceptual thought until months. Modern tools and simplified tasks suggest infants master conceptual thought earlier. What Piaget saw as inability may have been due to immature linguistic and motor skills. Infants more cognitively competent than Piaget envisioned. He may have been mistaken with his emphasis on motor skills as the prime engine of cognitive growth.

21 psychlotron.org.uk Pre-operational stage (2 years – 7 years) - Cognitive advances Understands use of symbols – ability to use symbols or mental representations without cues. Able to use numbers, words, images where the person has attached meaning. Also – pretend play/fantasy play begins. Understanding objects in space – understand scale models, maps and the objects or spaces they represent. In the mal experiment – 90% of 5 year olds & 60% of 4 year olds able to successfully find objects. Understanding causality – while Piaget argued that children link two events simply because they occur close in time and not because of any sense of cause and effect relationship – evidence suggests that children DO have a sense of cause and effect.

22 psychlotron.org.uk Pre-operational stage (2 years – 7 years) - Cognitive advances Understanding identities and categorisation – the idea that people and many things are essentially the same even if they change form, size or appearance. Ability to determine the difference between living and non-living things (the difference between a rock, a person and a doll). Also learn to label people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ etc Understanding Number – by age 4, most children have words for comparing quantities

23 psychlotron.org.uk Pre-operational stage (2 years – 7 years) - Immature aspects Egocentrism Failure to understand CONSERVATION Lack THEORY OF MIND Failure to recognise FALSE BELIEFS Unable to distinguish between Appearance and Reality Difficulty distinguishing between Fantasy and Reality

24 psychlotron.org.uk Pre-operational stage (2 years – 7 years)

25 psychlotron.org.uk Pre-operational stage (2 years – 7 years)

26 psychlotron.org.uk 26 EGOCENTRIC CONVERSATIONS

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28 28 Procedures Used to Test Conservation

29 psychlotron.org.uk Theory of mind – Sally anne

30 psychlotron.org.uk PIAget – concrete operational Children learn to carry out concrete operations – logical manipulation of objects – cause and effect and other relationships between objects Categorisation – arrange objects in a series according to one or more dimensions; Class inclusion (10 flowers – 7 roses, 3 carnations – are there more roses than flowers? Say ‘roses’ because they compare roses with carnations rather than looking at the entire bunch. Inductive reasoning (my dog bark’s, Doris’s dog barks, all dogs bark) Spatial thinking – can use a map to find a hidden object; can estimate distance to get from one place to another Number/math – can work out simple story problems

31 psychlotron.org.uk Piaget – formal operational Capacity for Abstract Thought Use symbols to represent other symbols (x = 8) Appreciate allegory and metaphor Think in terms of what might be rather than what is Hypothetical-deductive thinking – the pendulum problem Piaget believed that the attainment of the formal operational stage in contrast to other stages is not universal

32 psychlotron.org.uk 32 Inhelder and Piaget’s Pendulum Problem The task is to compare the motions of longer and shorter strings, with lighter and heavier weights attached, in order to determine the influence of weight, string length, and dropping point on the time it takes for the pendulum to swing back and forth Children below age 12 usually perform unsystematic experiments and draw incorrect conclusions

33 psychlotron.org.uk 33 Critique of Piaget’s Theory Although Piaget’s theory remains highly influential, some weaknesses are now apparent The stage model depicts children’s thinking as being more consistent than it is Infants and young children are more cognitively competent than Piaget recognized Object permanence in 3-month-olds (Bower, 1974) Number conservation in 4 year olds (McGarrigle & Donaldson, 1974)

34 psychlotron.org.uk 34 Critique of Piaget’s Theory Piaget’s theory understates the contribution of the social world to cognitive development Piaget’s tasks are culturally biased Schooling and literacy affect rates of development e.g. Greenfield’s study of the Wolof Formal operational thinking is not universal e.g. Gladwin’s study of the Polynesian islanders Piaget’s theory is vague about the cognitive processes that give rise to children’s thinking and about the mechanisms that produce cognitive growth


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