Cognition & development How a human/child develops knowledge/understanding of everything.

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Cognition & Development

Cognition & development – How a human/child develops knowledge/understanding of everything.


  • Egocentrism – Only able to see something from your own point of view – not being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

  • Schemas – Mental representations of our knowledge and understanding of the world as well as previous experiences.

  • Assimilation – When you use an existing schema and adapt it and then fit the new concept in to it

  • Accommodation – Forming a new schema because it does not fit with existing schemas for example birds and aeroplanes.

  • Disequilibrium – Results in assimilation and/or accommodation of schemas

  • Equilibrium – A balanced state of mind – we understand everything

  • Operations – Combining Schemas together e.g. Child shaking rattle – shaking/holding.

  • Conservation – The ability to understand that even if something changes physical shape the capacity is still the same.

  • Object Permanence – If you can’t see something then it doesn’t exist

  • Animism – Provide inanimate objects with human feelings/intentions – “The sun looks sad today”

  • Centration – The ability to only be able to focus on one aspect.

  • Seriation – The ability to place things in an order

  • Class Inclusion – refers to children being able to find a common characteristic and therefore categorising different things into different groups.

Jean Piaget – Piaget’s Cognitive developmental theory

There are four stages of development.

Stage 1 – Sensori-Motor Stage – Between 0-2 years –

  • This is when the child develops through the use of automatic reflexes and develops into purposeful actions.

  • Most of the information comes in through their senses.

  • During this stage the child lacks object permanence

  • It only starts to develop at 9 months – Separation anxiety.

  • At this stage, the child is egocentric

  • Piaget mentions 6 stages within this stage where as they develop their thinking becomes more and more complex.

  • They learn through the sucking reflex.

  • Towards the end of this stage Piaget believes the child becomes less ego-centric. However there are theorists such as Bower et al who criticized Piaget for under-estimating the age at which the child develops object permanence.

Stage 2 – Pre-Operational Period – Between ages of 2-7

  • The child’s thinking has become more complex during this stage due to the development of language.
  • Toddlers will use symbols and made-up words to refer to objects which allow them to participate in pretend play.

  • As the child develops they also experience animism – children therefore develop their thinking by identifying a mental task which they were previously unable to do and if related to them they are then able to carry out things that Piaget believed were impossible at this age.

  • E.g. Conservation and Seriation

  • The conservation at this age starts to improve, they realise that even if the appearance is different the amount is the same.

  • They are limited by egocentrism and Centration

  • Class inclusion

E.g. Box of brown beads and two white beads, he asked the question “Are there more brown beads or more wooden beads?”

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Only children above the age of 6 could answer correctly

  • Mc Garrigle criticized Piaget from the way he asked the questions – He gave example of 2 black cows and one white cow and told the children they were sleeping.
  • “Are there more black cows or more cows sleeping?”

Every1 could answer correctly which deomonstrates Piaget underestimated younger children.



  • Egocentricity is the 1st limitation – Piaget’s studies were limited in terms of egocentricity which was demonstrated in the 3 mountains experiments.

  • Then an ethical issue of parental consent was not gained because ...

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