2 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 Jean Piaget ( )The first person to study cognitive development scientifically and systematically.The most influential theory of cognitive development.
4 ADAPTATION: SCHEMAThe 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 Cognitive development As the child gets older its schemas become...More numerousMore complexMore interconnectedMore abstract
6 Cognitive development The child’s understanding develops because...Its brain is developing (maturation)It is exploring the world around it (experience)
7 Sources of ContinuityThree processes work together from birth to propel development forwardAssimilation: The process by which people translate incoming information into a form they can understandAccommodation: The process by which people adapt current knowledge structures in response to new experiencesEquilibration: The process by which people balance assimilation and accommodation to create stable understandingDevelopmental Psychology Lecture 3
8 DiscontinuitiesThe discontinuous aspects of Piaget’s theory are distinct, hierarchical stagesCentral properties of Piaget’s stage theory:Qualitative changeBroad applicability across topics and contextsBrief transitionsInvariant sequenceHypothesized that children progress through four stages of cognitive development, each building on the previous oneDevelopmental Psychology Lecture 3
9 Stage Theories Development is discontinuous Each stage is qualitatively distinctThe sequence is universal and invariantPiaget 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 Gradualist vs. Stage theories Gradual change over timeAbrupt changeRelative stabilityPsychological attributeHow might the line representing a stage theory be different?Time
11 A Constructivist Approach Jean Piaget’s theory remains the standard against which all other theories are judgedOften labeled constructivist because it depicts children as constructing knowledge for themselvesChildren are seen asActiveLearning many important lessons on their ownIntrinsically motivated to learnDevelopmental Psychology Lecture 3
12 Piaget’s stage theoryChildren’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 Piaget’s Stage Theory of Cognitive Development CharacteristicsTypical AgeSensorimotor stageSubstages 1-3Ability to deal with situations is limited to:i) Having sensations and producing actions; ii) The ‘here and now’0-8 monthsSubstages 4-6Intentional actions emerge; trial and error behaviour; object concept – object permanence develops; simple pretend play; language acquisition8-24 monthsPreoperational stagePreconceptual periodSymbolic thought develops; egocentrism; animism; centration2-4 yearsIntuitive periodJudgements based on appearance not logical thought; less egocentric; unable to conserve4-7 yearsConcrete operational stageConservation; seriation; transitivity; class inclusion7-11 yearsFormal operational stageAbstract concepts; hypothetical thinking; flexibility in thinking12+ years
14 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)
16 General Symbolic Function During the sensorimotor stage a range of cognitive abilities develop. These include:Object permanenceSelf-recognitionDeferred imitationRepresentational playThey relate to the emergence of the general symbolic function, which is the capacity to represent the world mentally
17 Object permanence Objects are tied to infant’s awareness of them “out of sight, out of mind”Hidden toy experiment4 months: no attempt to search for hidden object4-9 months: visual search for object9 months: search for and retrieve hidden objectA-not-B task (Diamond, 1985)9 months: A/B error after 1/2 second delay12 months: 10 second delay needed to produce error
18 Object permanence Before 8m Does not search for hidden object at all. Typical ageSearch behaviourBefore 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 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 view5-8 months – baby shows anticipation.12 months – babies start to imitate the game – then it is the adult who acts more like an idiot.
20 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 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 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’ etcUnderstanding Number – by age 4, most children have words for comparing quantities
23 Pre-operational stage (2 years – 7 years) - Immature aspects EgocentrismFailure to understand CONSERVATIONLack THEORY OF MINDFailure to recognise FALSE BELIEFSUnable to distinguish between Appearance and RealityDifficulty distinguishing between Fantasy and Reality
30 PIAget – concrete operational Children learn to carry out concrete operations – logical manipulation of objects – cause and effect and other relationships between objectsCategorisation – 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 anotherNumber/math – can work out simple story problems
31 Piaget – formal operational Capacity for Abstract ThoughtUse symbols to represent other symbols (x = 8)Appreciate allegory and metaphorThink in terms of what might be rather than what isHypothetical-deductive thinking – the pendulum problemPiaget believed that the attainment of the formal operational stage in contrast to other stages is not universal
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 forthChildren below age 12 usually perform unsystematic experiments and draw incorrect conclusionsDevelopmental Psychology Lecture 3
33 Critique of Piaget’s Theory Although Piaget’s theory remains highly influential, some weaknesses are now apparentThe stage model depicts children’s thinking as being more consistent than it isInfants and young children are more cognitively competent than Piaget recognizedObject permanence in 3-month-olds (Bower, 1974)Number conservation in 4 year olds (McGarrigle & Donaldson, 1974)Developmental Psychology Lecture 3
34 Critique of Piaget’s Theory Piaget’s theory understates the contribution of the social world to cognitive developmentPiaget’s tasks are culturally biasedSchooling and literacy affect rates of developmente.g. Greenfield’s study of the WolofFormal operational thinking is not universale.g. Gladwin’s study of the Polynesian islandersPiaget’s theory is vague about the cognitive processes that give rise to children’s thinking and about the mechanisms that produce cognitive growthDevelopmental Psychology Lecture 3