A level - Cognition and Development

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  • Cognition and Development
    • Piaget
      • Cognitive development is a result of maturation and the environment
        • Maturation refers to the effects of biological processes of ageing
          • As children get older, certain mental operations become possible
      • Children are scientists
      • Schemas
        • Mental structures that represent a group of related concepts
        • A new born already has a few schemas, e.g. a mental representation of a human face, allowing to distinguish a human face from other objects
        • Schemas develop through interactions with the environment
        • When they come across something unfamiliar, in order to understand it
          • Accommodation
            • When come across something so different to what they have previously experienced and have to change or develop new schema
          • Assimilation
            • When child tries to understand new information in terms of their existing knowledge of the world
        • Motivation for learning
          • When our existing schemas do not allow us to make sense of something new, leading to unpleasant sensation of disequilibrium
      • Stages of cognitive development
        • Sensorimotor 0-2
          • Uses senses to understand its environment
            • Object permanence
        • Preoperational 2-7
          • Lack logic- based reasoning
            • Egocentric
            • Class inclusion
        • Concrete 7-11
          • Develop logical reasoning (limited to physical objects they can see)
            • Conservation
        • Formal 11+
          • Formal reasoning, focus on the form of an argument
            • Hypothetical and abstract thinking
        • Fixed and Universal
      • Evaluation
        • Methods have been criticised
          • Design of experiment may have confused younger children
            • McGarrigle and Donaldson 1974 argued that children in the conservation tasks responded to demand characteristics because of the deliberate transformation, demanding an alternative response
              • When used a 'naughty teddy' to mess up the counters, children coped better because the teddy's behaviour was explained
        • Culturally bias
          • He used children from European academic families in his studies
            • In other cultures or social classes, greater value may be placed on e.g. more basic level of concrete operations (such as making things rather than thinking about abstract ideas)
              • Theory not universally applicable
        • Applications
          • Implies children are not 'biologically ready' to learn certain concepts.
            • For real learning to take place, activities should be at the appropriate level for a child's age
              • The Plowden report 1967 led to major changes in primary school education in UK
        • Evidence to support existence of innate schemas
          • Fantz 1961 showed infants as young as 4 days old have preference for schematic face, rather than same features all jumbled up
            • Shows its the unique configuration of a face rather than a complex pattern that is preferred
    • Vygotsky
      • Children are apprentices
      • Places greater emphasis on the role of social and cultural factors in children's learning
      • Expert
        • Someone with greater knowledge than the child
      • Scaffolding
        • Process of assisting a learner through ZPD, gradually withdrawn as child is able to work independently
      • ZPD
        • Region where cognitive development takes place
      • Role of language
        • Culture is transmitted by experts using 'semiotics', signs and symbols develop within a particular culture
        • Language takes form of shared dialogues between adult and child, as child develops skill of mental representation they begin to communicate with themselves, language enables intellectual development
      • Social and individual level
        • Every function in child's development appears twice, firstly on social level, later on individual level, social experiences enable development and depend on use of 'semiotics'
      • Elementary functions
        • Biological and a form of natural development
        • Innate functions (perception, memory)
          • Which are transferred into, by the influence of culture
            • Higher mental functions
              • Exclusively human
              • Math and language
      • Evaluation
        • Support for the role of culture using cross-cultural research
          • Gredler 1992 looked at the counting system used in Papua New Guinea, counting is done by starting at the thumb and going up the arm and down the other fingers ending at 29
            • This system makes it hard to add and subtract large numbers
              • Backs up Vygotskys claim that culture has an effect on learning
        • He believed language and thought are at first independent
          • Suggesting that acquisition of a new word was the 'beginning' of development of a concept
            • Carmichael 1932 gave P one of two labels for certain drawings, when participants were subsequently asked to draw the shape, it differed according to which label they'd been given
              • Shows that words can affect the way we think about and remember things
        • Evidence for ZPD
          • McNaughton and Leyland 1990 observed young children working with their mothers on jigsaw puzzles of increasing difficulty
            • Easy puzzle (below ZPD) mothers did little. Moderately challenging (Within ZPD) mothers focused on helping the child solve the puzzle for themselves. Difficult (beyond ZPD) mothers intervened a lot
              • Experts adjust their input according to where a learner is in the ZPD, supports the idea
        • Support for scaffolding
          • Research shows that level of help given by the expert partner declines during the process of learning
            • David Conner & David Cross 2003 in a longitudinal study they followed 45 children, observing them engage in problem solving tasks with the help of their mothers at 16, 26, 44 & 54 months
              • Distinctive changes in help were observed over time, mothers used less and less direct intervention and more hints and prompts as children gained experience
        • Influence on education
          • Idea that children can learn more and faster with scaffolding raised expectations of what they should be able to achieve
            • Social interaction in learning, through group work, peer tutoring and individual adult experience from teachers and teaching assistants has been used to scaffold children through ZPD
    • Baillargeon
      • Used technique called 'Violation of expectation'
        • Based on idea that an infant will show surprise when witnessing an impossible event
      • infants see a row of carrots passing along a track, at one point the carrots pass behind a large window cut out, small carrots would pass below the window so no carrot could be seen (expected event) large carrots should show in the window however the carrot tops do not appear (unexpected event)
        • Infants as young as three months old showed surprise observing the unexpected event
        • DV - how long stared at the 'surprise'
      • Controls
        • Used birth announcements in the local newspaper to gather P
          • Unbiased, can only generalize to the community
          • Parents instructed to close their eyes and not interact with the child
            • Not to lead the baby to any behaviour
            • Used double blind design
              • Prevent investigator effects
      • Proposed infants are born with 'Physical reasoning system'
        • Hard-wired with basic understanding of the physical world
          • We have a primitive awareness of the physical properties of the world, they become more sophisticated as we learn from experience
      • Evaluation
        • Carefully controlled
          • Used another investigator to conduct the experiment
            • Minimising possibility of investigator effects which could lead to bias results
              • Controlling extraneous variables, assume data is reliable
        • Difficult to judge what an infant understands
          • It may be that the child just found the features more interesting, or that the two events are different
            • Looking at something for longer wouldn't necessarily be the way they would respond to an 'impossible' event
              • Violation of expectation ma not be a valid way of investigating infant understanding of the physical world
        • Hespos & Marle 2012 point out without learning or experience we all have good understanding of the physical properties
          • We all known that if we let go of dangling keys they'll fall on the floor
            • Because this understanding is universal it suggests PRS is innate, otherwise we would find cultural differences
              • Supports Baillargeons idea of PRS because its universal nature suggests that it is innate (as she believed)
    • Social Cognition
      • Theory of Mind
        • Understanding that someone else has separate mind to out own, therefore do not see or experience the world as we do
          • Develops at around 3 years old
        • False belief tasks
          • Wimmer and Perner (1983) False belied task
            • Maxi put her chocolate and in blue cupboard
              • Her mother moved the chocolate into a green cupboard, whilst Maxi was out of the room
                • When Maxi returns, where will she look for the chocolate?
                  • Neatly all 3 year olds said he will look in the green cupboard
                    • From 4 year  children gave correct answer, by 6 all children could do this
            • Baron-Cohen (1985) The Sally Anne test
              • Sally has a basket and Anne has a box
                • Sally puts a marble in her basket and leaves the room
                  • Anne puts the marble in her box
                    • Sally returns, where will sally look for her marble?
                      • Success rate for  normal children 85%
                        • Down syndrome children 85% (meaning TOM is not linked to low intelligence or developmental delay)
                          • Autistic children 20% success rate
              • Later research Baron-Cohen (1997) The Eyes Task
                • Wanted to investigate whether high functioning autistic people had ToM
                • After passing Sally-Anne test, had them do the Eyes task
                  • Shown pictures of peoples eyes, then had to guess the emotion presented
                    • Normal mean 20.3 / 25 Autistic mean 16.3 / 25
        • ToM as an explanation to autism
          • They find social interaction difficult, this can be explained by the inability to predict the behaviour of others
        • Evaluation
          • Methodology of the Eyes Task has been criticised
            • Argued it does not test ToM as intended
              • Wellman and Woolley (1990) Argued there is a difference between, knowing someones internal state and knowing how they experience the world
                • This is true for the Sally-Anne test measures, but not the Eyes Task
                  • Counfounding variable within research, reduced reability, reduced internal validity
          • Argued Baron-Cohen's research is culturally biased
            • Sample was entirely British, and this approach to understanding autism has a very Western perspective
              • Maguire (2013) Suggested that higher rates of autism in the West (than anywhere else) might be explain by the fact that other cultures to dont see autism symptoms as abnormal
                • Ethnocentric view, cannot generalise
          • False belief tasks criticised
            • Argued that performance on False-belief tasks requires other cognitive abilities (memory)
              • Although the Sally-Anne test is simpler and shorter than the original Maxi story, it still requires a lot for a 3 year old to remember
                • Some tasks give autistic kids visual aids to help them remember, and found they often succeed
                  • copunfounding variable, therefore may not measure what it is supposed to, reduced internal validity
      • Mirror Neuron System
        • Mirror neurons fire when: a motor action is performed, motor action is observed, or sound associated with a motor action is heard
          • There is evidence for their involvement in the cause of autism
        • Discovered by accident by Rizzolatti (2002) whilst researching neurons firing in the MC and PMC area of macaque mokeys
          • One of the researches reached for their lunch and the neurons in the monkeys MC fired in the same way, as when the monkey reached for its own food, (thought, neurons responsible for imitation or learning of an action)
            • Similar neurons found in human frontal cortex. Gallese (1996) 10% of the neurons in this area are mirror neurons
        • Mirror neurons
          • Mirror neurons and intention
            • Gallese and Goldman (1998) found that mirror neurons also respond to intentions behind behaviour
              • Suggestion that we simulate other's actions in our motor system and experience their intentions using mirror neurons
          • Mirrror neurons and perspectivce taking
            • Mirror neurons important in ToM and the ability to take others perspectives
              • If mirror neurons fire in response to others' actions and intentions this may give us a neural mechanism for experiencing, and hence understanding, other people's perspectives and emotional states
          • Mirror neurons and human evolution
            • Vilayanur and Ramachandran (2011) Suggest mirror neurons are so important they effectively shaped human evolution
              • Untitled
          • Mirror neurons and autism
            • Untitled
        • Evaluation
          • Research evidence from individual neurons
          • Evidence form disruption to MN's
          • Gender differences
          • Explaining autism
          • Mirror neurons oversold
      • Selman social cognition
        • Argued perspective taking is the central factor of social development
          • Once we develop perspective taking we are socially competent individuals (being able to  take someone else's perspective gives us insight into what other people are things or feeling)
        • Levels of perspective taking
          • Undifferentiated perspective taking 3-6
            • Social-informational perspective taking 6-8
              • Self-reflective perspective taking 8-10
                • Mutual perspective taking 10-12
                  • Societal perspective taking 12-15+
                    • Decisions are now made with reference to social conventions
                  • Can view self and other from POV of a third impartial party, consider viewpoints simultaneously
                • View own thoughts and feelings from someone else perspective (recognise others do the same)
              • Assume its because others have different information
            • Largely governed by own perspective
          • Used various dilemmas which look at child's reasoning when faced with conflicting feelings
          • Develop with biological maturation and experience
        • Evaluation
          • Support for stage theory
            • In a follow up study 2 years later, 40 out of 48 of his original P made gains in their level of perspective taking and none had regressed
              • Supports that stages are a progressive age-related developmental sequence
          • Support for role of experience
            • Fitzgerald and White 2003 looked at perspective taking in relation to parental style
              • Parents who encourage their children to take perspectives of victims when child caused them harm showed growth in PT skills
          • Research is correctional
            • More popular children interact with more people, which may lead in advances of PT skills
              • PT is simply a marker of how socially developed a child is, social experience is cause
          • Real life applications
            • Social Skill Training is used in therapeutic settings with people with mental disorders or emotional problems
              • Explanation for criminal behaviour is that criminals lack empathy and PT skills, this explains their willingness to harm others, SST used to develop prisoners PT skills to increase their empathetic concern for others
          • PT skills are fundamentally important in all social behaviour
            • Fitzgerald and White 2003 found maturity of PT skills is negativity correlated with aggression and positively correlated with Pro-social behavior
              • Suggests PT skills lead to important social developments or can be used to explain lack of social development
        • Refers to how cognitive processes aid in social interactions

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