Chapter 3- Cognitive Foundations Flashcards Preview

Adolescent Psychology > Chapter 3- Cognitive Foundations > Flashcards

Flashcards in Chapter 3- Cognitive Foundations Deck (105)
Loading flashcards...

Changes over time in how people think, how they solve problems, and how their capacities for memory and attention change

Cognitive development


Influential swiss developmental psychologist, best known for his theories of cognitive and moral development

Jean Piaget


A period in which abilities are organized in a coherent, interrelated way



The organization of cognitive abilities into a single pattern, such that thinking in all aspects of life is a reflection of that structure

Mental structure

A person who thinks within a particular stage in one aspect of life should think within that stage in all other aspects of life as well because all thinking is part of the same mental structure


Approach to understanding cognition that emphasizes the changes that take place at different stages

Cognitive-developmental approach


Process by which abilities develop through genetically based development with limited influence from the environment



How did Piaget's emphasis on the importance of maturation contrast with the views of other theorists?

Other theorists believed that there were no inherent limits to development or that environmental stimulation could override them. Piaget portrayed maturation as an active process in which children seek out information and stimulation in the environment that matches the maturity of their thinking, which contrasted with the views of other theorists such as behaviorists, who saw the environment as acting on the child through rewards and punishments rather than seeing the child as an active agent


According to Piaget's theory, a mental structure for organizing and interpreting information



The cognitive process that occurs when new information is altered to fit an existing's scheme


Example: reading information in a text book that is familiar to you


The cognitive process that occurs when a scheme is changed to adapt to new information


Example: learning about adolescent development in other cultures in a textbook that does not fit with your current ideas about that culture


What are Piaget's four stages of cognitive development?

Sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, formal operations


According to Piaget, the cognitive stage in the first two years of life that involves learning how to coordinate the activities of the senses with motor activities

Sensorimotor stage


According to Piaget, cognitive stage from ages 2 to 7 during which the child becomes capable of representing the world symbolically – for example, through the use of language – but is still very limited in ability to use mental operations

Preoperational stage


According to Piaget, cognitive stage from age 7 to 11 in which children learn to use mental operations but are limited to applying them to concrete, observable situations rather than hypothetical situations

Concrete operations


cognitive activity involving manipulating and reasoning about objects

Mental operations


According to Piaget, cognitive stage from 11 on up in which people learn to think systematically about possibilities and hypotheses

Formal operations


Piaget's classic test of formal operations, in which persons are asked to figure out what determines the speed at which a pendulum swings from side to side

Pendulum problem


Piaget's term for the process by which the formal operational thinker systematically tests possible solutions to a problem and arrives at an answer that can be defended and explained

Hypothetical-deductive reasoning


Thinking in terms of symbols, ideas, and concepts

Abstract thinking


Thinking that takes into account multiple connections and interpretations, such as in the use of metaphor, satire, and sarcasm

Complex thinking


The capacity for "thinking about thinking" that allows adolescents and adults to reason about their thought processes and monitor them



Approach to research that focusses on how individuals differ within a group, for example, in performance on IQ tests

Individual differences


What are the two limitations of Piaget's theory of formal operations?

Individual differences in the attainment of formal operations

The cultural basis of adolescent cognitive development


Describe the limitation of Piaget's theory: individual differences in formal operations

Piaget's theory puts a strong emphasis on maturation, and asserted that most people proceed through the same stages at about the same ages because they experience the same maturational processes.

Research indicates that these claims were inaccurate, especially for formal operations:
- there are a great range of individual differences in the extent to which people use formal operations, some use it in a wide range of situations; other use it selectively; and others not at all or rarely. A large proportion of people use formal operations either inconsistently or not at all
- those with the capacity for formal operations tend to use it selectively for problems and situations in which they have the most experience and knowledge – for example, chess players and those with experience working on cars
- specific kinds of experiences (education in science and math) are important for the development of formal operations. Adolescents with education in math and science are more likely than other adolescents to exhibit formal operational thought
- Piaget underestimated how much effort, energy, and knowledge it takes to use formal operations. Most tasks require concrete operations, and people often will not use formal operations even if they have the capacity to do so because they are more difficult and taxing


Describe the limitation of Piaget's theory: culture and formal operations

In the 1970s, numerous studies indicated that cultures vary widely in the prevalence with which their members displayed an understanding of formal operations on the kind of tasks that Piaget and others had used to measure it – scholars believed that in many cultures formal operational thought does not develop, especially those cultures that did not have formal schooling

Piaget responded – suggested that even though all persons reach the potential for formal operational thinking, they apply it to areas in which their culture has provided them with the most experience and expertise. If you use materials and tasks familiar to the people in different cultures and relevant to their daily lives, they will likely display formal operational thinking under those conditions

Now there is widespread support among scholars for the proposition that the stage of formal operations constitutes a universal human potential, but the forms it takes in each culture are derived from the kinds of cognitive requirements people in the culture face


Type of thinking beyond formal operations, involving greater awareness of the complexity of real life situations, such as in the use of pragmatism and reflective judgement

Postformal thinking

Piaget believed that cognitive maturation was complete once formal operations was fully attained at age 20. However, research indicates that cognitive development often continues in important ways during emerging adulthood, inspiring theories of cognitive development beyond formal operations- postformal thinking


Two of the most notable aspects of postformal thinking in emerging adulthood concern advances in:

Pragmatism and reflective judgement


Type of thinking that involves adapting logical thinking to the practical constraints of real-life situations


These theories propose that the problems faced in normal adult life often contain complexities and inconsistencies that cannot be addressed with the logic of formal operations
According to Labouvie-Vief, cognitive development in emerging adulthood is distinguished from adolescent thinking by a greater recognition and incorporation of practical limitations to logical thinking – adolescents exaggerate the extent to which logical thinking will be effective in real life, whereas emerging adults have a growing awareness of how social factors and factor specific to a given situation must be taken into account in approaching most of life's problems


Describe how formal operational thought can be found among in Inuit adolescents

Until recent decades, Inuit children and adolescents had never attended school, if they had tried to perform the tasks of formal operations, they probably would have done poorly

However, adolescent boys would have used formal operations when hunting by themselves. They would have used hypothetical-deductive reasoning to figure out why their hunt was unsuccessful on a particular outing

Adolescent girls who had to tan hides by themselves at the age of 14, may have ruined a hide and had to ask where in the process did she go wrong, working her way back through the various steps in the process, trying to identify her error – this is also a formal operational thinking, considering various hypotheses in order to identify a promising one to test


Type of thinking that develops in emerging adulthood, involving a growing awareness that most problems do not have a single solution and that problems must often be addressed with crucial pieces of information missing

Dialectical thought

A theory presented by Michael Basseches
For example, people may need to decide whether to quit a job they dislike without knowing whether their next job will be more satisfying.

Some cultures may promote dialectical thinking more than others – for example, it has been proposed that Chinese culture traditionally promotes dialectical thought by advocating an approach to knowledge that strives to reconcile contradictions and combine opposing perspectives by seeking a middle ground. In contrast, the European American approach tends to apply logic in a way that polarizes contradictory perspectives in an effort to determine which is correct