• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How successful have developmental psychologists been in their efforts to understand the development of thought in the first year of infancy?

Extracts from this document...


Mrs Tracey Goode. How successful have developmental psychologists been in their efforts to understand the development of thought in the first year of infancy? The scientific study of children's development in which it has been deemed worthy of intellectual interest, is relatively new in the history of childhood. Up to Piaget's time the only 'grand theory' of mental development of children was one derived from Darwin's evolutionary theory. 'The younger the child, the more primitive in an evolutionary sense are his/her mental abilities'. Recent research has provided new understanding of the developing child and of the nature of development itself. This essay is going to discuss the complexity of researching the development of children's thoughts by using Piaget's theory and other research, which has extended and/or criticised his theory. In order to do this, two areas are going to be concentrated on, one the infants understanding of the nature of objects, which was considered by Piaget to be 'the 'linchpin', of the child's cognitive system', (Bancroft, D, 1994 pg 126) and two how infants engage in conversations via imitation. Human thought is a wide - ranging topic and encompasses such areas as concept formations, the development of schemas and scripts, the use of cognitive maps, social and environmental influences and individual characteristics. When researching developmental issues such as thought during infancy longitudinal studies, observational studies and clinical interview techniques are ususally used, which encompasses methodological issues, which will be evident throughout this essay. ...read more.


Harris (1973, as cited by Bancroft, D, 1994) then modified Piaget's experiment by using two cloths, an object and adding an interference task of a time delay. This experiment challenges Piaget theory as Harris (1973) found that the child without the interference task searched straight away for the object. By adding the interference task it showed that the original information was lost and the child could not remember where the toy was so did not reach for it. The overall conclusion is that 'while infants may have some idea of the existence of objects, keeping track of objects which move from place to place is a harder problem since it makes demands on various parts of their still developing cognitive system.' (Bancroft, D, 1994 pg 139) When discussing Piaget's experiments it has to be taken into consideration the ecological validity of the experiments. Piaget used his own children as participants, which can incorporate experimenter bias. Several aspects of Piaget's theory have been questioned but other aspects remain influential. Even though his stage concept has not been supported by more recent research, we find most educationalists and developmentalists operate within this four part division. Piaget's neglect of social context is considered an important reason why his research tends to underestimate children's ability. The second area of thought in which psychologists are interested in is the way that children engage in conversation through imitation. ...read more.


For the Piagtian framework development is characterised as unified abstract entities that function across cognitive domains, while for others development may progress in different domains independently (such as spatial, number and causality cognition). These approaches retain the idea that modules of cognitive processing are pre-wired and autonomous. Development involves the child's strong or weak working of theories. Meltzoff and Moore take a radically different view concerning the nature of the newborn infants cognitive system. In their view infants do not need to embark on the developmental process described by Piaget since they are born with an ability to symbolise (or represent) their world, which is based on evidence that suggests that infants can imitate in the first hours of life. 'They belong to a group of theorists working from a 'nativist' philosophical starting point who believe that newborn humans possess an integrated sensory system in which physical behaviour and sensory behaviour both share a common form of representation.' (Bancroft, D, 1994, page 150) Vinter's perception accommodates evidence from both Piaget and Meltzoff and Moore. The Neo - Piagtian stance is represented by the new theory. The generality and stages of development are de emphasised. Social interaction is more influential. The child's information processing capacities as well as development in working memory are more relevant. However, even though investigating thought during the first year of infancy is contentious and there is limitations in the investigations that we have looked at, they have provided the psychological and educational world an insight into relevant clues about the mental life of infants and how we progress as humans. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Investigate the stages that infants go through when developing attachments.

    * By the age of 4, 24 of the children had been adopted, (group 1) and 15 had returned to their natural homes, (group 2) and the rest (group 3) remained in the home. Conclusions - * They concluded that the harmful effects of privation can be overcome to some extent through sensitive and consistent care (e.g.

  2. Levels Of Processing

    Palmere et al (1983) found that elaboration was important in increasing recall. The paragraphs where the main ideas were elaborated were remembered better than the shorter sentences. This is because more thought goes into it and the main idea is processed in more detail leading to deeper processing.

  1. Using studies from the list below, answer the questions which follow: Rosenhan (sane in ...

    used this study to set out their criteria for diagnosing abnormal behaviour, there is the possibility that the results of the prior PET scan may be inaccurate, therefore, giving rise to the possibility that Raine et al.'s study may be inaccurate and unreliable.

  2. Did Piaget under-estimate what children understand about the physical world.

    Piaget believed that children in the sensorimotor stage (approximately birth to two years) experience the world generally through corporeal activity and immediate perceptions, without thought, as adults know it. He alleged that until approximately eight months of age, a child has no concept of object permanence.

  1. Piaget's Developmental Psychology. He believed that childrens logic changed as they developed through their ...

    This study could also go against the ethics as the child could have been experiencing fear from the sudden loss sight. Pre-operational Stage At this stage a child develops symbolic thinking; another characteristic of this stage is egocentrism. Piaget devised a three mountain task to test this theory.

  2. The study into the use of Roamer in promoting basic concepts in geometry for ...

    An important contribution his work can make to maths is to support for the idea of group work, something which is possibly not seen as much in maths as in other subjects. Vygotsky said "What a child can do in co-operation today, he will be able to do alone tomorrow."3

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work