What kinds of knowledge are central to human cognitive development?
- 3 domains:
- naive physics
- physical world of objects and events
- naive psychology
- social cognition, self, agency
- naive biology
- conceptual knowledge
- ('foundational domains' - Wellman & Gelman, 1998)
Classical theories on how these different kinds of knowledge develop?
- Nativism vs Empiricism
- Nativist: concepts and beliefs inborn
- poverty of stimulus argument
- Empiricist: mind is a 'blank slate'
- baby doesnt know what kind of environment it will be born into
- IN REALITY: follows position between these 2 extremes - knowledge depends on interaction with world and self
- Some innate 'constraints' on learning
Piaget. What has happened to his main thesis?
- Stages in children's cognitive development
- Children do not think and reason in adult-like fashion until teenage years
How did he observe developemtn in children (often)?
- Careful observation of his own children
- 1. search errors in babies
- 2. errors of quantity in young children
3 basic components to Piaget's Cognitive theory.
- 1. Schemas
- 2. Adaptation processes (equilibrium, assimilation and acocommodation)
- 3. Stages of development
What was Piaget's theory of primary causal mechanism for building knowledge
- adaptation and refinement of existing cognitive schema (knowledge structures)
- caused by 2 processes:
- 1. accommodation: adapting cognitive schemas to fit reality
- 2. assimilation: complementary process of interpreting experience in terms of current cognitive schemas
- Equilibrium: occurs when child's schema can deal with most new info through assimilation, but disequilibrium occurs when new info cannot fit existing schemas
- Ideas that development happens in leaps and bounds, not steady rate
- In this way, equilibrium drives development
4 stages in Piaget's cognitive theory.
- 1. sensoy-motor cognition
- 2. pre-operational
- 3. concrete operation
- 4. formal operation
- knowledge developes via action
- gradual differentiation between self and environment
- gruadual growth of intention
- by end of sensory-motor, infants achieve cognitive representations - knowledge of hiddn objects
- main characteristics:
- 1. egocentric: perceive world with respect to self
- 2. centration: child fixes on one aspect of situation or object and ignores others
- 3. lack of reversibility: cannot mentally reverse set of steps when reasoning
What has recent experimental evidence told us about Piaget's stages theory?
- 'pure' measures of reasoning almost impossible to devise
- when familiar, 'child-centred' material used, and when attention paid to linguistic and non-lnguistic aspects of experimental setup --> even v young children may pass tasks assumed to test abiliteis of adolescents.
how are the different aspects of pre-operational assessed? (2-7yo)
- 1. egocentricity: perspective-taking (3 mountains) 'what do you see?' - egocentric assumes other people has the same view as you. According to Piaget, after 7 they can view other's view.
- 2. Centration: conservation of number task
- number of checkers in two rows do not differ but one is spread out more.
- 3. Lack of reversibility: conservation of liquid
- can 'decentre', no longer egocentric, can reverse mental operations
- reasoning relies on logical concepts
- 1. classification
- 2. class inclusion
- 3. seriation
- 4. invariance
- 5. reversibility
- logic no longer dominated b perception
Concrete operations - assessment
- AGAIN, behavioural data suggest concrete can all be found in young children -n in the right contexts
- fMRI: suggests when we reason (eg. using Newton's laws of physics), we also activate perceptually-driven knowledge (eg. about trajectories of falling objects)
- successful logical reasoning depends on inhibiting this incorrect knowledge
Criticisms of Piraget. What is missing?
- 1. no role for language
- 2. no attention to social/emotional aspects of development
- 3. no role for teaching or culture - child constructs all knowledge
- 4. Only structure, not process
Criticism of Piaget. Methodological.
- generally underestimate children's abilities
- 1. small participants samples - often used own children
- 2. no statistical analysis
- 3. cross-sectional and not longitudinal (so can't draw conclusions about process of development from stage to stage)
- 4. SENSORY MOTOR: often required child's active response - children may be limited by immature motor skills etc
- IN GENERAL: context made a huge difference and later manipulations to more familiar contexts showed they were capable
- COutner-criticism: Piaget specifically just interested in 'disembedded' thought and not embedded, contextualised ones
Piaget influenced by
Kant's constructivist theory of knowledge (synthsis of empiricist and rationalist ideas)
Vygotsky. Main points.
- Knowledge originates in socially meaningful activity (complementary roles of culture & language)
- Language: 'symbolic system' - inner speech organise cognitive activities
- Important point: when speech and pracical activity for the first time converge
- Language also acts as ptoblem-solving tool when asking others for help
What's Vygotsky's important point about measuring mental development in children?
- Zone of proximal development (ZPD)
- Importance of investigating how much further child can go with guidance of teacher
- eg. chil;dren aged 10 years can both do standardised tasks to age of 8, but with guidance, one goes to 12 but the other only to 9. Mentally, they are not the same. Differed in proximal development.
Vygotsky also emphasised importance of what activity?
- creates natural ZPD (zone of proximal development)
- play was creation of imaginary situation
- bridge between perceptual/situational constraints and adult thought which is free of situational constraints
Criticisms of Vygotsky.
- 1. little experimental data
- 2. little attention to social and emotional aspects of development
Main points of Bowlby.
- importance of emotional/social development
- attachment (proximity and consistency)
- Inner working model of their value as a person who is deserving of love and support from others
- Ainsworth's strange situationSecure(B), Insecure avoidant (A), Insecure resistant (C), Disorganised (D)
How are secure attachments etc researched?
- Hormone (stress during separations)
- hormone in nursery care vs home
- trend to use anmal models to model human babies, (but animals lack language!)
Trends/frameworks from cognitive neuroscience?
- distributed networks that represent schema - connectionism
- Neuroconstructivism: biological constraitns (gene, gene-environment, interactions of neural structures) play vital role in how brain scults itself
- integration of constructivism, socio-cultural effects and biology = challenging
- but... no all-knowing inner 'central executive' that governs what is known
- 'vast, loose-knit distributed representational economy' (Clark, 2006)