- Created by: Fyzah :p
- Created on: 03-05-12 10:27
Cognitive development :D
Cognitive development = How our mental abilities develop, invcluding thinking, problem solving, maths skills and our moral development.
Piaget (1926) - Overview of his theory of cognitive development:
- Piaget believed that children's thinking changed as they got older due to biological maturation of innate structures in their brain.
- With age comes a variety of interactions with ones environment; therefore, a child's understanding becomes more complex due to thier experiances.
- Nature vs. nurture debate.
Mechanisms of cognitive development
Mechanisms involved in Piaget's thoery of cognitive development:
- Self constructed mental structures; can be cogniitve or behavioural.
- Occurs when an existing schema is applied to a new object; it invloves integrating new information into an exisiting schema.
- When a new experinace cannot be assimiliated into an existing or new schema, it is altered or a new schema is developed to accommodate the new information.
- Has a biological origin.
- According to Piaget, equilibrium (balance) is needed in cognitive structures.
- An imbalance (disequilibrium) is encountered when there is a gap in what's understood and what is being presented.
- By developing new schemas and adapting old ones, the imbalance is corrected resulting in an equilibrium.
Piaget's stages of cognitive development
Stage 1 - Sensorimotor (0-2 years):
- Children learn to coordinate sensory input with motor actions; they explore by using their senses and reflexes.
- Object permanence develops before 18 months; before this, young children lose their interest in an object when it is hidden from them as they have no concept that it still exists.
Stage 2 - Pre-operational (2-7 years):
- Symbolic thinking (use of symbols and language)
- Children don't understand conservation; the physical properties of an object stays the smae ddespite changes in its appearance.
- Children are egocentric.
Piaget's stages of cognitive development (cont.)
Stage 3 - Concrete operational (7-11 years):
- Children develop decentration - the ability to focus on more than one aspect of something.
- They also develop conservation
- Children at this stage develop logical thinking; Piaget said this was the most important acheivement as it provides evidence of a child's command of logical control.
Stage 4 - Formal operational (11+):
- Children can solve problems and can use hypothetico-deductive reasoning.
- Idealistic thinking - they use imagination to picture how things might be like if changes were made.
- Can reason solely on verbal statements.
Experiments during the pre-operational stage:
The three mountain task (Piaget and Inhelder, 1956):
- Aims to test egocentrism.
- It was found that 4 year olds showed no awareness of the doll's view showing that htey were egocentric.
- 6 year olds frequently chose a picture different to thier view, but rarely chose the correct picture.
- Only at 7 or 8 years did the children consistently choose the picture that matched the doll's view, showing that they weren't egocentric.
The Policeman doll study (Hughes, 1975):
- Hughes wanted to see if children could perspective-take when faced wit a familiar stimulus.
- It was found that 90% of children aged 3.5 to 5 years old could complete the task correctly, showing that they weren't egocentric.
- This contradicts Piaget's finding that only 7-8 years olds weren't egocentric.
Experiments into conservation
Naughty teddy (McGarrigle and Donaldson, 1974):
- They aimed to test conservation.
- They believed that children made errors on Piaget's conservation task as he asked the same question twice, which could have acted as a demand characterisitc for the children.
- They wanted to see if levels of conservation changed if the question was asked once.
- It was found tht 62% of 6 year olds showed that they had number conservation.
- By asking them the question once, children didn't have a misleading demand characteristic as a barrier to them demonstrating conservation.
Experiments into egocentrism
The turntable task (Borke, 1975):
- Aimed to test egocentrism in children.
- Similar to Piaget's three mountain task, but children were given a turntable instead of walking around the three mountains.
- It was found that 3 year olds selected a correct view 42% of the time.
- 4 year olds seleted teh right view 67% of the time.
- These findings contradict those found by Piaget; Borke found that young children weren't egocentric.
- Borke's study had a practise session which helped, Piaget would have seen practise as irrelevent.
- It was claimed that Piaget's task confused the younger children as they were distracted by the fact that they had to walk around the three mountains.
Experiments into object permanence
Bower and Wishart
- They tested object permanence by placing a toy infront of a child.
- However, unlike Piaget's experiment of using a screen (which may have distracted the child), they switched off the lights.
- By using infra-red cameras, they monitored the children's eye movement.
- The found that even 1-4 month old babies continued to look in the direction of the toy.
- This showed that object permanence occured at an earlier stage than Piaget suggested (18 months).
Evaluation of Piaget
- Based on empirical evidence and therefore falsifiable.
- Practical applications - contribution to education.
- Bias in his research: Piaget used his own children and other middle-class children from the same western culture; therefore, it lacks population validity and cannot be applied to individualist and non-western cultures.
- Researcher bias may have been shown as his own children were used.