HUMAN DEVELOPMENT 1
PSYCHOLOGY 3050:
Thinking in Symbols: The
Development of Representation (Ch 5)
Dr. Jamie Drover
SN-3094, 864-8383
e-mail -- [email protected]
Winter Semester, 2013
Learning to Use Symbols
• Symbols: external referents for objects
and events.
• Representational Insight: Knowledge
that an entity can stand for something
other than itself.
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
• DeLoache (1987) had 2- and 3-year-old children
search for a toy hidden in a room.
• Earlier, they are shown a model room that
illustrates where the toy is.
• They then have to find the toy in the room.
• Then have to find the model toy in the model
room.
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
3-year-olds possess
representational insight.
2.5-year-olds do not
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
• If a picture is used instead of a scale model, 2.5year-olds show representational insight,
whereas 2-year-olds do not (DeLoache 1987).
• These findings may reflect difficulty with dualrepresentation.
• A model is its own item, worthy of its own
attention.
• When models are made less interesting,
performance changes.
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
• When models were viewed through a window,
2.5 year-olds’ performance was better than on
the model task.
• When 3-year-olds were allowed to play with the
model beforehand, performance decreased.
• DeLoache et al. (1997) designed a task that did
not require dual representation.
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
• “credible shrinking room studies” -- 2.5 yr olds
can succeed
– “shrinking machine” can shrink room
– shown “Terry the Troll”
– machine “shrinks” (then enlarges) Terry
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
• Standard model task – hide Terry in large room
– Room was “shrunk”
– 2.5 yr can find Terry in small room
• No need for representational link between model
and the room, instead -- large and small room
believed to be the same thing
– no dual representation needed
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
• Even an 18 month-old will show basic symbolic
play.
• But this is not necessarily dual representation.
• DeLoache et al. (1998) presented pictures to 9
to 19 month-old children from the US and the
Ivory Coast.
• The youngest children treated them as objects.
Young Children’s Interpretation of Pictures
and Models
• By 19 months of age, they realized the picture
represented something else.
The Appearance/Reality Distinction
• The knowledge that the appearance of an object
does not necessarily correspond to its reality.
The Appearance/Reality Distinction
• De Vries (1969) studied qualitative identity
– Children were familiarized with a trained cat.
– The cat was then fitted with a dog mask.
– 3-year-olds believed the mask changed the identity of
the cat.
• Flavell (1986) poured white milk into a red glass
while young children were watching.
• Showed children a sponge that looked like a
rock.
The Appearance/Reality Distinction
• They were asked what does it look like to your
eyes right now?
• Asked, what is it, really and truly?
• Made two kinds of errors.
• Phenomenism errors: said milk was really and
truly red.
• Intellectual realism: Said the fake rock looked
like a sponge.
The Appearance/Reality Distinction
• Young children’s poor performance on
appearance/reality distinction tasks is
surprisingly pervasive.
• Might stem from problems with dual encoding.
• They have trouble representing an object in
more than one form at a time.
Jean Piaget
• A Swiss philosopher/psychologist
first trained as a biologist.
• Has had the greatest impact on
developmental psychology.
• Emphasized the role of children in
development.
• Children are not incomplete
adults.
– Think differently, qualitative
differences.
Assumptions of Piaget’s Theory
• We develop in discrete stages.
• Cognitive development is through a series of
transformations.
– But underlying functions are continuous.
• Mechanisms of cognitive development are
domain-general (homogeneity of function).
17
Assumptions of Piaget’s Theory
• Children are not passive creatures, they are
intrinsically active and possess an innate
curiosity and seek stimulation.
– The motivation for development is within the child.
– They are primarily responsible for their own
development.
Assumptions of Piaget’s Theory
• Cognition is a constructive process.
• We interpret the world through our own personal
perspective, ie, through what we already know.
– Constructivism
• Children at different levels construct different
realities.
The Constructive Nature of Cognition
• They come to know objects by acting on them –
action schemes.
• Scheme: the basic unit of knowledge.
• These action schemes become internalized –
operations or operational schemes.
20
Functional Invariants
• Processes that characterize
all biological systems
(including intelligence) and
operate throughout the
lifespan.
• Organization: Through
organization, every
intellectual operation is
related to all other acts of
intelligence.
– Structures/schemes are not
independent, but are
coordinated.
– Domain general
21
Functional Invariants
• Adaptation: the organism’s ability to adjust its
structures to environmental demands.
• Assimilation: the incorporation of new
information in already existing schemes.
• Accommodation: a current scheme is changed
to incorporate new information.
22
Assimilation and Accommodation
• Knowledge is constructed by these processes.
• Every act of intelligence involves both.
– One may predominate over the other.
– Play, imitation
23
Equilibration
• The organism’s attempt to keep its cognitive
structures in balance.
• When information does not match current
schemes, disequilibrium results.
• Achieved through alteration of cognitive
structures (e.g., accommodation).
• The child may also assimilate.
24
Stages of Development
• The order of the stages are invariant and
culturally universal.
• Development is epigenetic
– Based on bidirectional interactions between structure
and function.
– Later development is based on earlier development.
– New structure is a transformation of an earlier one.
25
The Sensorimotor Stage
• Birth to 2 years.
• Intelligence is limited to one’s own actions on the
environment.
• Do not form mental representations.
– Understand only what is physically present.
• Knowledge progresses from sensorimotor to
representational thinking.
26
The Sensorimotor Stage
• There is a change in personal perspective.
– Learn to differentiate themselves from the external
world.
•
•
•
•
There are six substages
1) the use of reflexes: Birth to 1 month
Use reflexes to interpret the world
They apply reflexes to objects and assimilate
them to their schemes.
27
The Sensorimotor Stage
•
•
•
•
Highly restricted in what they can know.
They do not behave intentionally, but can adapt.
2) Primary circular reactions: 1 to 4 months
Reflexes are extended, new patterns of behavior
are acquired.
• Can modify reflex schemes.
28
The Sensorimotor Stage
• Primary Circular
Reactions: the first
class of acquired
repetitive behaviors.
• Based on hereditary
reflexes
• Show primitive signs
of intentionality.
29
The Sensorimotor Stage
• 3) Secondary Circular Reactions: 4 to 8 months.
• Not based on reflexes, but represent the first
acquired new behaviors.
• These behaviors first appear by chance.
• 4) Coordination of secondary circular reactions:
8 to 12 months.
• Show goal-directed behavior and cause and
effect.
30
The Sensorimotor Stage
• Coordinates secondary circular reactions.
• 5) Tertiary Circular Reactions: 12 to 18 months.
• Characterized by clear means/end
differentiation.
• Can alter existing schemes directly related to
obtaining a solution.
• Show increasing locomotive abilities.
• Show a peak in curiosity.
31
The Sensorimotor Stage
• Still cannot form mental representations.
• Solve problems through trial and error.
• 6) Invention of new means through mental
combinations.
• Symbolic functioning is first seen.
• New means are invented through mental
combinations.
32
The Sensorimotor Stage
• Show symbolic function through language,
deferred imitation, gestures, and mental
imagery.
33
The Development of Operations
• In the three stages following the sensorimotor
stage, children can form mental representations.
• Preoperations: 2-7
• Concrete Operations: 7-11
• Formal Operations: Begins at 11
34
The Development of Operations
• Operations: Cognitive schemes that
describe ways in which children act on
their world.
• Mental; require the use of symbols
• Derive from action. They are internalized
actions.
• Exist within an organized system.
– All cognitive operations are integrated.
35
The Development of Operations
• Operations are logical and follow rules.
• Reversibility – knowledge that an operation can be
reversed. Two types:
– negation – an operation can be negated, or inverted
• (5+2 = 7; 7-2 = 5)
– compensation -- change in one dimension offset by
changes in another -- a tall thin man and a short fat
man can weigh the same
36
The Transition from Preoperational to
Concrete Operational Thought
• Thinking in the preoperations stage is intuitive,
lacking logic.
• More concerned with appearance than logic
Conservation
• The realization that an entity stays the same
despite changes in its form.
• This is the sign that one has achieved concrete
operations.
37
The Transition from Preoperational to
Concrete Operational Thought
• E.g. conservation of liquid (volume).
• 5-year-olds cannot solve this problem. 8-yearolds can solve the problem and explain why.
38
The Transition from Preoperational to
Concrete Operational Thought
• The pre-operational child thinks intuitively.
• If the liquid is poured back into the original
container, preoperational children claim
the amounts are equal.
• This does not produce contradiction
(disequilibrium) in the preoperational child.
– But it does in older children. They will soon
accommodate.
39
The Transition from Preoperational to
Concrete Operational Thought
• Conservation does not develop simultaneously
for all properties of materials.
• Number before mass before weight before
volume
– Note that there is heterogeneity here.
Conservation of Number
40
The Transition from Preoperational to
Concrete Operational Thought
Reversibility
• Preoperational children can not apply negation
or compensation to conservation problems.
Centration v. Decentration
• Preoperational children’s perception is centered.
• They make judgments based on the most salient
aspect
41
The Transition from Preoperational to
Concrete Operational Thought
• Concrete operational children are decentered.
• Can remove their attention from specific aspects
of the conservation problem and make decision
based on all dimensions.
• Centration is not limited to conservation tasks
but is found in everyday life
– Use height to estimate age
42
The Transition from Preoperational to
Concrete Operational Thought
Egocentricity
• Preoperational children assume that others see
the world as they do.
• This permeates their complete cognitive world.
• Perhaps this egocentricity is adaptive.
43
Transition from Concrete to Formal
Operational Thought
• In early adolescence, children’s thoughts are no
longer applied to the concrete.
– Not limited to tangible facts or object
Hypothetico-Deductive Reasoning
• The benchmark of formal operations.
• They can generate hypotheses.
• Can think solely on the basis of symbols.
44
Transition from Concrete to Formal
Operational Thought
• Can generate ideas not yet experienced.
Thinking like a scientist
• Can think inductively.
• Go from specific observations to broad
generalizations.
• Hypotheses are generated then systematically
tested.
45
Transition from Concrete to Formal
Operational Thought
• Pendulum problem
• Given four factors that can affect pendulum speed
– String length, weight of object, height of release, force of
push.
• Must formulate a hypothesis
• Vary a single factor while holding the others constant.
46
Transition from Concrete to Formal
Operational Thought
• Preoperational children can carry out the first
step.
• Concrete operational children can’t get the right
answer.
– Can’t isolate a variable.
• Thinking About Thinking
• Can examine the content of their own thought.
47
Transition from Concrete to Formal
Operational Thought
• Can acquire new information from internal
reflection.
• Reflective abstraction: a rearrangement, by
means of thought, of some matter previously
presented to the subject in a rough or immediate
form.
Egocentricity
• Adolescents demonstrate centration.
48
Transition from Concrete to Formal
Operational Thought
• Believe that their abstract ideas are unique to
them.
• Adolescents are extremely self-conscious.
• Playing to an imaginary audience.
• Leads to the personal fable
– Belief in uniqueness and invulnerability.
– May explain reckless behavior
• May be adaptive by ensuring experimentation
and independence.
49
Transition from Concrete to Formal
Operational Thought
• It’s debatable whether adolescents or even
adults are the logical thinkers Piaget thought
they were.
• Formal operational thought is used by adults in
some contexts, but not in other.
50
The State of Piaget’s Theory Today
• Piaget’s theory continues to influence us today.
• But is it accurate?
• Contributions
• Founded cognitive development as we know it.
– Became task focused
• Emphasized the active role of the child.
– Constructivism
51
The State of Piaget’s Theory Today
• Equilibration as an explanation.
• Introduced critical concepts.
– Scheme, object permanence, egocentrism
• Provided an accurate description of
development.
• Influence went beyond cognitive development.
52
The State of Piaget’s Theory Today
• Piaget’s intent was to measure competence.
• May have underestimated the competence of
children.
– Object permanence, mental representation,
egocentricity
• Children can be trained to think at a higher level.
– Conservation
– May be context specific
53
The State of Piaget’s Theory Today
• In some cases, Piaget may have
overestimated how adults think.
– See garlic powder example (p 182; Capon &
Kuhn, 1977).
54
Fuzzy Trace Theory
• Piaget’s theory is not perfect.
• New forms of thinking don’t necessarily replace
older ones.
• Older children and adults can solve problems
illogically.
• Dual-Processing: There are multiple ways of
knowing, or of solving problems.
Fuzzy Trace Theory
• Based on intuitionism: People think, reason, and
remember by processing inexact “fuzzy” memory
representations.
• Cognition is intuitive.
• Memory traces exist on a literal/verbatim –
fuzzy/gistlike continuum.
• People of all ages prefer to use fuzzy traces when
solving problems.
– The extent of this preference changes with age.
• Reduction to essence rule
Fuzzy Trace Theory
• Fuzzy traces are more easily accessed than
verbatim traces.
• Verbatim traces are more susceptible to
interference.
• Making responses produces output interference
that hinders performance.
– Scheduling effects: caused by serial nature
– Feedback effects
Developmental Differences
• There are changes in gist extraction.
• Young children are biased toward storing and
retrieving verbatim traces.
• A verbatim to gist shift occurs during the
elementary school years.
• Brainerd and Gordon (1994) have provided
evidence for this (p. 191).
– Preschool children showed better memories for
verbatim questions than for other questions.
Developmental Differences
• Age differences have been found in sensitivity to
output interference.
• Verbatim memory traces are more sensitive to
interference than fuzzy traces.