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How do children and adolescents think differently?

more advanced
more efficient
more effective
more flexible (adolescents are able to move easily between the specific and the abstract, to generate alternative possibilities and explanations systematically, and to compare what they actually observe with what they believe is possible)
more logical
more organized
Greater ability to think about possibilities (as opposed to confined strictly to actualities)
More abstractly
More metacognitively
More multidimensionally
More relativistically (as opposed to absolutely)
Counterfactually (thinking about what might have been)


Specifically as it relates to thinking about possibilities, how do children and adolescents differ on this dimension?

Children’s thinking is oriented to the here and now—to things and events that they can observe directly. But adolescents are able to consider what they observe against a backdrop of what is possible. Put another way, for the child, what is possible is what is real; for the adolescent, what is real is just a subset of what is possible.


What are some examples of adolescents thinking about possibilities?

how their personalities might change in the future

how they might have been different had they grown up under different circumstances

Adolescents understand who they are is just one possibility of who they could be


How does thinking about possibilities enhance one’s ability in mathematical reasoning?

The study of mathematics often requires that you begin with an abstract or theoretical formulation—for example, “the square of a right triangle’s hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides” (the Pythagorean theorem). This theorem is a proposition about all possible right triangles, not just triangles that you might actually observe. In mathematics, you learn how to apply these theorems to concrete examples (that is, real triangles).


How does thinking about possibilities enhance one’s ability in scientific reasoning?

Scientific experimentation also involves the ability to generate possibilities systematically. In a chemistry experiment in which you are trying to identify an unknown substance by performing various tests, you must first be able to imagine alternative possibilities for the substance’s identity in order to know what tests to conduct


How does thinking about possibilities enhance one’s argumentative skills?

they are better able than children to envision and anticipate the possible responses of an opponent and to have one or more counterarguments handy. Many parents believe that their children become more argumentative during adolescence. What probably happens, though, is that their children become better arguers (Steinberg, 2011). Adolescents don’t accept other people’s points of view unquestioningly—including their parents’ viewpoints. They evaluate them against other theoretically possible beliefs.


What types of thinking are examples of thinking about possibilities?

Deductive reasoning
(All hockey players wear mouth guards.
Kim is a hockey player.
Kim wear a mouth guard)
—Deductive reasoning is seldom used before adolescence, and its development is one of the major intellectual accomplishments of the period (Morris & Sloutsky, 2001)

Hypothetical thinking


How does brain development contribute to the development of deductive reasoning?

DR requires inhibitory control linked to the development of the PFC. For example you might need to put on the cognitive breaks before incorrectly answering this question:

All hockey players wear mouth guards.
Kim is wearing a mouth guard.
Is Kim a hockey player?
(Need more info.)


What thinking characteristics are necessary to the formation of hypothetical thinking?
(If-then thinking)

1) to see beyond what is directly observable and
2) to apply logical reasoning to anticipate what might be possible
3) The ability to plan ahead, to see the future consequences of an action, and to provide alternative explanations of events


What are the cognitive benefits, generally and argumentative benefits specifically of hypothetical thinking?

Playing devil’s advocate, for example—when you formulate a position contrary to what you really believe in order to challenge someone else’s reasoning—requires hypothetical thinking.
Additionally, this helps in formulating and arguing a viewpoint, because it allows adolescents to think a step ahead of the opposition—a cognitive tool that comes in handy when dealing with parents (“If they come back with ‘You have to stay home and clean up the garage,’ then I’ll remind them about the time they let my sister go out when she had chores to do”).


What are the social benefits of hypothetical thinking?

HT facilitates in taking the perspective of others enabling the adolescent to think through what someone else might be thinking or feeling (“If I were in her situation, I would feel pretty angry”)


How does hypothetical thinking enhance decision making abilities?

it permits one to plan ahead and foresee the consequences of choosing one alternative over another (“If I go out for the soccer team, then I am going to have to give up my part-time”).


What is the difference between concrete thinking and abstract thinking?

Concrete thinking is more bound to observable events and objects. Abstract thinking has the ability to deal with abstract concepts—things that cannot be experienced directly through the senses. Abstract thinking affords thinking in more advanced ways about interpersonal relationships, politics, philosophy, religion, and morality—topics that involve such abstract concepts as friendship, faith, democracy, fairness, and honesty


monitoring and managing your own cognitive activity during the thinking process and being able to explain this exercise to others is called what?



When you consciously and deliberatively use a strategy for remembering something (such as Every Good Boy Deserves Fun, for the notes of the treble clef in music notation) or when you make sure you’ve understood something you’re reading before going on to the next paragraph are examples of what cognitive process?



How does metacognition influence the formation of identity?

Metacognition increases introspection and self-consciousness. When we are introspective, we are thinking about our own emotions. When we are self-conscious, we are thinking about how others think about us. These processes permit the sorts of self-examination and exploration that are important tools for establishing a coherent sense of identity


Sometimes the newfound powers of thinking metacognitively and introspectively result in 2 primary problems often referred to as what?

Adolescent egocentrism (extreme self-absorption), comprising imaginary audience and personal fable.


A heightened sense of self-consciousness caused by the belief that your behavior is the focus of everyone else’s attention is known as what?

Imaginary audience


What do we know about brain maturation that further explains or compounds the issue of imaginary audience?

the parts of the brain that process social information—such as perceptions of what others are thinking—undergo significant change during early adolescence. In fact, brain imaging studies indicate that compared to adults adolescents’ self-perceptions rely more on what they believe others think of them.


What are the characteristics of the personal fable including its costs and benefits?

a. The egocentric and erroneous belief that his or her experiences are unique
b. Invincibility
c. Invulnerability

Costs: heightened risk for risk-taking (girl having unprotected sex thinking she’ll never get pregnant OR an inconsolable teen impervious to consolation in the wake of a relationship breakup)

a. enhances self-esteem
b. Enhances feelings of self-importance


Is adolescent egocentrism strictly an adolescent phenomena?

Yes and No.
Imaginary audience tends to dissipate over time, but the personal fable
persist through the adult years (Frankenberger, 2000; Quadrel, Fischhoff, & Davis, 1993). Ask any adult cigarette smoker if she or he is aware of the scientific evidence linking cigarette smoking with heart and lung disease, and you’ll see that the personal fable is quite common among many individuals who have long since left adolescence.


What is an example of the difference in multidimensional thinking among children and adolescents?

when a certain hitter comes up to the plate in a baseball game, a preadolescent who knows that the hitter has a good home-run record might exclaim that the batter will hit the ball out of the stadium. An adolescent, however, would consider the hitter’s record in relation to the specific pitcher on the mound and would weigh both factors, or dimensions, before making a prediction (perhaps this player often hits homers against left-handed pitchers but frequently strikes out against righties)


What cognitive ability often develops concurrently with multidimensional thinking?

The development of a more sophisticated understanding of probability.

For example, Suppose I give you a set of blue and yellow beads. I ask you to divide them into two containers so that the containers have different numbers of beads overall but that the probability of reaching into a container and picking a blue bead is the same for each. In order to do so, you would have to vary the number of blue beads and the number of yellow beads between the two containers, because the probability of drawing a blue bead is a function of both the number of blue beads and the number of yellow beads. It is not until early adolescence that individuals can solve this sort of problem successfully (Falk & Wilkening, 1998.)


How does the development of multidimensional thinking impact social cognition?

Adolescents describe themselves and others in more complicated terms (“I’m both shy and extroverted”) and find it easier to look at problems from multiple perspectives (“I know that’s the way you see it, but try to look at it from her point of view”). Understanding that people’s personalities are not one-sided, or that social situations can have different interpretations, permits the adolescent to have far more sophisticated—and far more complicatedself-conceptions and relationships.


How does the development of multidimensional thinking impact our understanding of the complexities and intricacies of language?

It allows us to both understand and appreciate dimensions of language such as sarcasm, satire, irony, metaphors, puns, etc..
How does this development occur?
By attending simultaneously to multiple dimensions of speech: a combination of what is said, how it is said, and the context in which it is said.


What cognitive development during adolescence revolves around the nature of knowledge?

Relativistic thinking (as opposed to absolute thinking).

This is a shift from seeing things in absolute terms—in black and white—to seeing things as relative. Compared to children, adolescents are more likely to question others’ assertions and less likely to accept “facts” as absolute truths. As expected this can create conflict between parents and adolescents.


How does Piaget describe cognitive development?

cognitive development proceeds through a fixed sequence of qualitatively distinct stages with earlier stages of thinking being incorporated into new, more advanced, and more adaptive forms of reasoning.

during adolescence, individuals develop and deploy a special type of thinking that is fundamentally different from the type of thinking employed by children


According to Piagetian theorists what is the chief feature that differentiates adolescent thinking from that of children?

Abstract logical reasoning


Is the development of formal operational thinking universal, consistent across time and situations?

No. No. No.
Not all adolescents (or, for that matter, all adults) develop formal-operational thinking (not universal) or employ it regularly (time) and in a variety of situations.


Can formal operational thinking be fostered through intervention?

Some research has found that adolescents who have been taught how to use deductive reasoning are more likely to display formal thinking, which suggests that the development of advanced reasoning abilities can be facilitated by training (Morris & Sloutsky, 1998).


How accurate were Piaget’s claims that cognitive development unfolded in a stage-like fashion AND that formal operational thinking is the type of thinking most characteristic of the stage of adolescence?

A paucity of proof exists for the posits of Piaget

Little evidence exists that cognitive development proceeds in a stagelike fashion and that the stage of formal operations is the stage of cognitive development characteristic of adolescence.


If Piaget was the not accurate in his claims then what is a more accurate way to describe cognitive development during adolescence?

advanced reasoning capabilities develop gradually and continuously from childhood through adolescence and beyond (more like a ramp than like a staircase).

Formal operational thinking is in the minority among adolescents and is contingent on the situation especially familiar situations (Kuhn, 2009).


What specific cognitive abilities improve as individuals move from childhood into adolescence and beyond?

Processing speed
(A.M. MOP)


What 4 components under the category of attention develop during adolescents

1) selective attention
a. To focus on one stimulus (a reading assignment) and tune out another (the electronic beeping of a younger brother’s video game)

2) divided attention
a. paying attention to two sets of stimuli at the same time (such as studying while texting with a friend)

3) sustained attention
a. the ability to concentrate and stay focused on complicated tasks, such as reading and comprehending difficult material.

4) impulse control (linked to PFC dev.)
a. stopping yourself from looking up at a commercial that suddenly appears on the television in the corner of the room while you are reading.


What 3 types of memory improve during adolescence?

Working memory
Long term memory
Autobiographical memory
a. personally meaningful events from earlier in life
b. an aspect of long-term memory


What happens to autobiographical memory during early adolescence?

It stabilizes allowing the recollection of memories to when they were about two and a half years old (Reese, Jack, & White, 2010).


The capacity of adults to remember details about the people, places, and events they encountered during adolescence better than those from other years is a phenomenon called what?

The reminiscence bump (Rubin, 1986).


What do not explain the reminiscence bump?

1) better memory because basic memory abilities remain strong until midlife.
2) so many important events happen for the first time during adolescence (e.g., first love, first job, first time living away from parents).
a. Even mundane events that took place during adolescence are recalled better than those that happened at other ages.
b. we tend to remember other, less personal things from adolescence better, too—things like movies, books, music, and current events (Janssen, Chessa, & Murre, 2007).


What factors explain the reminiscence bump?

1) Something is different about how everyday experiences are encoded during adolescence, as if the brain’s “recording device” is calibrated to be hypersensitive at this age.
a. When certain chemicals in the brain are released at the same time an event is experienced, the event is more easily remembered than when levels of these chemicals are not as high; therefore, the adolescent brain is chemically primed to encode memories more deeply (Knutson & Adcock, 2005).


Provide an example of why, in some cases, WM more important than LTM during adolescence.

For example, in order to answer multiple-choice questions, you need to be able to remember each option long enough to compare it with the other choices as you read them. Think for a moment of how frustrating it would be to try to solve a multiple-choice problem if, by the time you had read the final potential answer, you had forgotten the first one! (Amso, Haas, McShane, & Badre, 2014.)


How does improvements in working memory coincide with and depend on brain development?

Improvements in working memory coincide with the continued maturation of brain regions during adolescence that are responsible for this aspect of cognition (Conklin, Luciana, Hooper, & Yarger, 2007; Hanson et al., 2012; Jolles, Kleibeuker, Rombouts, & Crone, 2011). More specifically, advances in working memory during adolescence are linked to the ways in which these areas of the brain are organized and connected, which permits more efficient and powerful information processing (Finn, Sheridan, Kam, Hinshaw, & D’Esposito, 2010; Ghetti, DeMaster, Yonelinas, & Bunge, 2010).


Describe changes in information processing speed during adolescence.

Regardless of the task employed, the speed of information processing increases markedly between ages 5 and 15 and then begins to level off. More specifically, the difference in speed between a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old is greater than that between a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old, which, in turn, is greater than that between a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old (see Figure 1) (Kail & Ferrer, 2007). Processing speed does not change very much between middle adolescence and young adulthood (Brahmbhatt, McAuley, & Barch, 2008).


Describe how adolescents are more advanced in information processing organizational strategies
compared to children.

1) more planful
a. they are more likely to approach a problem with an appropriate strategy in mind
2) more flexible
a. they use different strategies in different situations.

What are two examples of adolescents being more planful and more flexible?

1) using memory strategies such as mnemonic devices (HOMES)
2) reading a textbook chapter. Adolescents may employ a number of different predetermined strategies such as outlining, highlighting, marginalia, pre-reading for the big ideas, etc.
3) Developmental differences in levels of planning during childhood and adolescence can be seen quite readily by comparing individuals’ approaches to the guessing game 20 Questions. With age, individuals’ strategies become increasingly more efficient—when guessing the name of a person, an adolescent might begin by asking whether the person is dead or alive, then male or female, and so forth, whereas a young child might just start randomly throwing out the names of specific people (Drumm & Jackson, 1996.)


What are the social costs of improvements in metacognition?

1) greater sensitivity to social information
a. heightened self-consciousness
b. thinking out thinking exposes deficiencies in thinking leading to greater self consciousness
c. thinking about what others are thinking you’re thinking also heightens self consciousness.


What are the benefits of improvements in metacognition during adolescence?

1) increases in monitoring of their own learning (Crone, Somsen, Zanolie, & Van der Molen, 2006; Kuhn, 2009.)
a. They can reflect on and assess how well they are learning the material, evidenced by reading comprehension monitoring
b. They can speed up or slow down their learning based on the level of content difficulty


When do brain systems responsible for metacognition develop and when do they typically fully develop?

Brain systems responsible for metacognitive performance continue to mature throughout adolescence and early adulthood (Ladouceur, Dahl, & Carter, 2007).


By the age of 15 adolescents are just as proficient as adults in what basic cognitive abilities?

a. working memory
b. attention
c. logical reasoning abilities (Gathercole, Pickering, Ambridge, & Wearing, 2004; Luciana, Conklin, Hooper, & Yarger, 2005).


By their mid 20’s people are still developing what sophisticated cognitive skills?

a. thinking creatively
b. planning ahead
c. judging the relative costs and benefits of a risky decision (Kleibeuker, Koolschijn, Jolles, De Dreu, & Crone, 2013; Albert & Steinberg, 2011b)
d. coordination of cognition and emotion, when feelings might interfere with logical reasoning (for example, when you have to make a decision when you are angry or when faced with peer pressure) (Albert, Chein, & Steinberg, 2013).


By what age does the brain reach its adult size? (Suggesting that advances in thinking during adolescence are not a function of brain size increases)



For many years, scientists could not find links between physical changes in the brain and improvements in cognitive functioning during adolescence until what methods emerged?

functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).


What do functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) demonstrate in the adolescent brain?

These techniques allow researchers to:
1) take pictures of individuals’ brains and compare their anatomy and activity.
2) study changes in brain structure (for instance, certain parts of the brain are relatively smaller in childhood than adolescence, while others are relatively larger)
3) study brain function (for instance, adolescents may use different parts of the brain than children when performing the same task) (e.g., Dosenbach et al., 2010; O’Hare, Lu, Houston, Bookheimer, & Sowell, 2008; Wang, Huettel, & De Bellis, 2008).


How do scientists study the intersection of brain anatomy and brain functioning?

1) brain growth and development in other animals (because all mammals go through puberty, it is possible to study “adolescent” brain development in other species)
2) studies of changes in brain chemistry
3) postmortem studies of brain anatomy.


What does the DTI test tell us about brain development?

1) reflects between and within brain regions interconnectivity and compares patterns of interconnections among people at different ages (e.g., Klingberg, 2006), allowing better understanding of how “communication” patterns linking different regions of the brain change with development.
Ex. Researchers use fMRI to examine patterns of activity in various regions of the brain while individuals are performing a different tasks (for example, recalling a list of words, viewing photos of friends, or listening to music).


What do fMRI’s reflect?

1) how patterns of brain activity differ during different tasks (for example, when we are actively reading versus being read to)
2) whether people of different ages show different patterns of brain activity while performing the very same task.
Ex. for instance, my collaborators and I are studying how patterns of brain activity vary when individuals perform tasks either alone or with their friends watching them, and whether the ways in which the presence of friends affects brain activity differ between teenagers and adults (e.g., Smith, Steinberg, Strang, & Chein, 2015).