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III. Theories of Social Cognition A. View of Children’s Nature B. Central Developmental Issues C. Selman’s Stage Theory of Role Taking D. Dodge’s Information-Processing.

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Presentation on theme: "III. Theories of Social Cognition A. View of Children’s Nature B. Central Developmental Issues C. Selman’s Stage Theory of Role Taking D. Dodge’s Information-Processing."— Presentation transcript:

1 III. Theories of Social Cognition A. View of Children’s Nature B. Central Developmental Issues C. Selman’s Stage Theory of Role Taking D. Dodge’s Information-Processing Theory of Social Problem Solving E. Dweck’s Theory of Self-Attributions and Achievement Motivation F. Current Perspectives

2 A. View of Children’s Nature Have to do with children’s ability to think and reason about their own and other people’s thoughts, feelings, motives, and behaviors Emphasize the process of self- socialization Children’s active shaping of their own development through their activity preferences, friendship choices, and other behaviors

3 B. Central Developmental Issues The active child is a major theme in social cognitive theories. Individual differences in thinking and behavior for males/females, aggressive/non- aggressive children, etc. Some stage theories emphasize discontinuity, whereas others stress continuity.

4 C. Selman’s Stage Theory of Role Taking Focuses on role taking – the ability to adopt the perspective of another person, thereby better understanding that person’s behavior, thoughts, and feelings Preschoolers, for example, cannot take the perspective of another and hence have very limited social cognition. Selman proposed that children go through four increasingly complex and abstract stages in their thinking about other people.

5 Selman’s Stages of Development StageDescription years Children come to appreciate that another person can have a different perspective from their own, but they attribute this to the other person’s not having the same information they do years Children become able to think about the other person’s point of view years Children can systematically compare their own and the other’s points of view years Adolescents can compare another person’s perspective to that of a generalized other

6 D. Dodge’s Information-Processing Theory of Social Problem Solving Emphasizes the crucial role of cognitive processes in social behavior Children’s use of aggression as a problem- solving strategy Found that highly aggressive children seem to have a hostile attributional bias—an expectation that others are hostile to them, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy

7 E. Dweck’s Theory of Self-Attributions and Achievement Motivation Emphasizes the role of self-attributions in academic achievement Children with a entity/helpless orientation attribute success and failure to enduring aspects of the self and tend to give up in the face of failure Such “helpless” children tend to base their sense of self-worth on the degree of approval they receive from other people To be assured of praise, they avoid situations in which they are likely to not be successful Children with an incremental/mastery orientation attribute success and failure to the amount of effort expended and persist in the face of failure.

8 E. Dweck’s Theory of Self-Attributions and Achievement Motivation Older children’s cognitions about themselves are more complex Some children have an entity theory of intelligence and tend to think that a person’s level of intelligence is fixed and unchangeable. When they experience failure, they conclude that they are not very smart and that there is nothing they can do about the situation. Other children hold an incremental theory of intelligence and believe that intelligence can increase as a function of experience. These children tend to try harder after failure.

9 Implications Praising children for working hard supports an incremental model and a mastery-oriented motivational pattern. In contrast, offering praise and criticism focused on enduring traits can lead to an entity model and a helpless orientation.

10 F. Current Perspectives Social cognitive theories have made important theoretical contributions and have been supported by research. However, they provide an incomplete account because they do not address biological factors in development.

11 IV. Ecological Theories of Development A. View of Children’s Nature B. Central Developmental Issues C. Ethological and Evolutionary Theories D. The Bioecological Model E. Current Perspectives

12 A. View of Children’s Nature Ethological and evolutionary theories view children as inheritors of genetically based abilities and predispositions that underlie most aspects of their behavior. The bioecological model emphasizes the effect of context on development, but it also emphasizes the child’s active role in selecting and influencing those contexts.

13 B. Central Developmental Issues The importance of the interaction of nature and nuture, sociocultural context, and continuity of development are emphases in all three ecological theories. The active role of children in their own development is emphasized most in the bioecological approach.

14 Ecological Perspectives Ethological Evolutionary Bioecological

15 C. Ethological and Evolutionary Theories Ethological and evolutionary theories are concerned with aspects of human development that are presumed to be based on our evolutionary heritage. These theories primarily focus on species-specific behavior.

16 1. Ethology Studies the evolutionary bases of behavior, attempting to understand behavior in terms of its adaptive or survival value Ethologists argue that a variety of innate behavior patterns in animals, including imprinting, were shaped by evolution. Imprinting is a form of learning in which the young of some species of newborn birds and mammals become attached to and follow adult members of the species. Although human newborns do not imprint, they work to maintain visual contact with adult humans.

17 The Ethological Perspective Research also examined gender differences in play patterns Ethologists argue that gender differences are affected by evolved predispositions, with females having an innate preference for objects that afford opportunities for nurturance; males, for objects that invite movement. Support for the argument comes from research showing that nonhuman primates exhibit similar patterns of gender preferences as human children.

18 2. Evolutionary Psychology A relatively new approach that applies the Darwinian concepts of natural selection and adaptation to human behavior. A major premise of evolutionary psychology is that organisms, including humans, are motivated to behave in ways that preserve their genes in the gene pool of the species. Evolutionary psychologists argue that the large size of our brains necessitates a prolonged period of immaturity. A consequence is humans’ neural plasticity in learning from experience. They also see play as an evolved platform for learning. Prolonged immaturity requires a great deal of nurturance from parents.

19 Evolutionary Psychology Parental-investment theory stresses the evolutionary basis of many aspects of parental behavior, including the extensive investment parents make in their offspring. Parents’ genes are perpetuated only if their offspring survive and reproduce. A dark side of the evolutionary picture is the fact that the rate of murders committed by stepfathers against children residing with them is hundreds of times higher than the rate for fathers and their biological children.

20 Evolutionary Psychology Further, an implication of the evolutionary view of development is that radical departures from the species- typical environment (for example, in neonatal intensive care) could have negative consequences on development.

21 D. The Bioecological Model Urie Brofenbrenner presents the child’s environment as composed of a series of nested structures, with every level having an impact on development. The microsystem is the immediate, bi-directional environment that a person experiences. The mesosystem encompasses the connections among various microsystems. The exosystem consists of environmental settings that the person does not experience directly but that can affect the person indirectly. The macrosystem is the larger cultural context within which the other systems are embedded. The chronosystem consists of historical changes that influence the other systems.

22 Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Children with ADHD tend to be of normal intelligence, but have difficulty sticking to plans, following rules and regulations, and persevering on tasks that require sustained attention. All the symptoms seem to reflect an underlying difficulty in inhibiting impulses to act, especially when distractions are present. ADHD affects 3-5% of the children in the US, with the majority of the children diagnosed being boys.

23 ADHD ADHD, like many other debilitating syndromes, can be examined with the different levels of the bioecological model in mind. Biology clearly plays a role in causing ADHD. Environment influences, including parental behavior and how these children are treated by others, are also important. There is no evidence, however, that food additives, sugar, and fast-paced television are causes.

24 ADHD Small doses of stimulants like Ritalin help 70-90% of the children for whom it is prescribed. Longer-lasting gains require behavioral treatments, such as teaching children strategies for screening out disruptions. The availability of medications depends on factors far outside the influence of the family. At the level of the chronosystem, many have suggested that ADHD is a serious problem in modern times because of the advent of compulsory schooling, which prohibits children with attentional problems from finding niches outside the classroom.

25 1. Child Maltreatment Child maltreatment (i.e., intentional abuse or neglect that endangers the well-being of anyone under the age of 18) is one of the most serious threats to child development in the United States. In comparison to other youngsters, maltreated children have less secure relationships with parents, show less empathy and less self-esteem, and more conflicts with peers and difficulties with academic work in elementary school. In adolescence and adulthood, individuals with a history of maltreatment are at risk for developing serious psychopathologies.

26 1. Child Maltreatment Consistent with the bioecological model, a variety of factors are involved in the causes and consequences of child abuse. At the level of the microsystem, certain characteristics of children make them more likely to suffer abuse at the hands of their parents. Maltreating parents often have low self esteem, poor impulse control, and other problems. At the levels of the mesosystem and the exosystem, factors related to low family income and increased stress on parents are associated with abuse. A particularly important exosystem contributor is a family’s social isolation and lack of social support.

27 1. Child Maltreatment Daphne Bugental and her colleagues have developed a promising approach to preventing child maltreatment based on the social cognitive perspective. The researchers found that many abusive parents misinterpret child behavior (such as prolonged crying) and view themselves as victims. The program attempted to help parents at risk of abuse to achieve more realistic interpretations of their difficulties in caring for their children and to develop strategies for solving their problems. With reference to comparison groups receiving other types of interventions, the program was remarkably successful in reducing the incidence of abuse.

28 2. Children and the Media The daily environment of children in the United States is media saturated. Children spend more time involved with media entertainment than they do in any other activity besides school and sleep. There is some evidence that some positive benefits can be derived from educational television, internet chat rooms, and some kinds of video games. However, there are also many concerns about the effects of media…

29 2. Children and the Media More than 60% of television programs, for example, contain episodes of violence. Exposure to media violence: Teaches new behaviors and inspires imitation Increases the accessibility of the viewer’s own aggressive thoughts and feelings Creates heightened physiological arousal that makes viewers more likely to react violently to provocations after watching violent material May lead to emotional densensitization

30 2. Children and the Media Media viewing can also lead to decreased physical activity. Although there have been concerns about social isolation resulting from computer and video game use, recent evidence suggest that these activities are often interpersonally focused. An additional concern is the possibility that socioeconomic inequities will be exacerbated by unequal access to computers. Finally, a serious concern for many parents is children’s possible exposure to pornography via television and the internet.

31 3. SES and Development The effects of poverty on child development operate at all levels. Affluence can also have negative effects on development, including higher levels of anxiety and depression.

32 3. SES and Development These effects may arise because more affluent families tend to pressure their children to excel and often provide their children with little support. Further, the demands of dual careers may leave young adolescents unsupervised for several hours each week. In one assessment of well-being, the most affluent youth reported the lowest level of happiness whereas those from the poorest families reported the highest.

33 The Environment of Childhood Poverty

34 F. Current Perspectives Ecological theories are important because they place individual development in a much broader context than do other theories of social development. Evolutionary psychology has been criticized because many of its tenets cannot be tested and because it overlooks the human capacity to transform our environments and ourselves. The bioecological model has made important contributions to thinking about development, but can be criticized for its general omission of specific biological factors.


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