Psychology Chapter 9

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Jean Piaget

Swiss psychologist that believed that children actively try to make sense out of their environment rather than passively soaking up information about the world. He actually observed his own 3 children in developing his theory.According to Piaget, children progress through four distinct cognitive stages: the sensoirmotor stage, from birth to age 2; he preoperational stage, from age 2 to age 7; the concrete operational stage, from age 7 to age 11; and the formal operational stage, which begins during adolescence and continues into adulthood. He says that it’s a continuous, gradual process.

Sensorimotor stage

Extends from birth until about age 2. During this stage, infants acquire knowledge about the world through actions that allow them to directly experience and manipulate objects. They also expand their practical knowledge about motor action, reaching, grasping, pushing, pulling, and pouring.

Object permanence

The understanding that an object continues to exist even if it can’t be seen. This happens at the end of the sensorimotor stage.

Preoperational stage

Lasts roughly from age 2 to age 7, the 2nd stage of cognitive development. Characterized by increasing use of symbols and prelogical thought process. The hallmark of preoperational thought is the child’s capacity to engage in symbolic thought

Piaget’s theory of operations

Refers to logical mental activities.

Symbolic thought

The ability to use words, images, and symbols to represent the world. For example, when a child uses a discarded box as a spaceship or sheets and chairs as a fort, it clear that they have a increasing capacity for symbolic thought.


In Piaget’s theory, the inability to take another person’s perspective or point of view. Egocentrism children lack the ability to consider events from another person’s point of view. For example, a child genuinely thinks that Grandma would like a new Beanie Baby for her upcoming birthday because that’s what he wants.


In Piaget’s theory, the inability to mentally reverse a sequence of events or logical operations. For example, the child doesn’t understand that adding 3 plus 1 and adding 1 plus 3 refer to the same logical operation.


Refers to the tendency to focus, or center, on only one aspect of a situation, usually a perceptual aspect. In doing so, the child ignores other relevant aspects of the situation.

The principle of conservation

two equal physical quantities remain equal even if the appearance of one is changed, as long as nothing is added or subtracted.

Concrete operational stage

At around age 7, children become capable of true logical thought. They are much less egocentric in their thinking, can reverse mental operations, and can focus simultaneously on two aspects of a problem. They understand the principle of conservation. For example, when presented with two rows of pennies, each row equally spaced, concrete operational children understand that the number of pennies in each row remains the same even when the spacing between the pennies in one row increased. Children in this stage often have difficulty thinking logically about hypothetical situations or abstract ideas.

Formal operational stage

In Piaget’s theory, the fourth stage of cognitive development, which lasts from adolescence through adulthood; characterized by the ability to think logically about abstract principles and hypothetical situations. It emerges gradually and continues to increase in sophistication throughout adolescence and adulthood.

Renee Baillarageon

Critic of Piaget’s theory, she used visual tasks rather than manual tasks to test cognitive abilities. In her research the infant 1st watches an expected event, which is consistent with the understanding tht it is being tested. Then, the infant is shown an unexpected event. If the unexpected event violates the infant’s understanding of physical principles, he should be surprised and look longer at the unexpected event than the expected event. She found that infants develop event specific expectations rather than general principles.

Lev Vygotsky

Russian psychologist who was a critic of Piaget’s theory, that believed cognitive development is strongly influenced by social and cultural factors.

Zone of proximal development

Refers to the gap between what children can accomplish on their own and what they can accomplish with the help of others who are more competent.

Information-processing model of cognitive development

Focuses on the development of fundamental mental processes, like attention, memory, and problem solving. In the approach, cognitive development is viewed as a process of continuous change over the lifespan.


The transitional stage between late childhood and the beginning of adulthood, during which sexual maturity is reached.


A concept of framework that organizes and interprets information.


The stage of adolescence in which an individual reaches sexual maturity and becomes physiologically capable of sexual reproduction.

Primary sex characteristics

The part of puberty that involves the sex organs that are directly involved in reproduction. For example, the females uterus and the males testes enlarge in puberty.

Secondary sex characteristics

The changes that include height, weight, and body shapes; the appearance of body hair and voice changes; and in girls, breast development.

Adolescent growth spurt

The period of marked acceleration in weight and height gains.


Females first menstrual period, it typically occurs around age 12 to 13 but may take place as early as age 9 or 10 or as late as age 16 or 17.


From a psychologists view, it’s referring to a persons values, beliefs, and ideals that guide the individuals behavior. Identity formation is a process that continues throughout the life span. As we embrace new and different roles over the course of our lives, we define ourselves in new ways.

Erik Erikson

Believed that each of eight stages of life is associated with a particular psychosocial conflict that can be resolved in either a positive or negative direction. Relationships with others play an importnant role in determining the outcome of each conflict. He believes the key psychosocial conflict facing adolescents is identity versus role confusion.

Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development

Infancy, toddlerhood, early childhood, middle and late childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood, late adulthood.

Erikson’s theory to successful identity

Begins with role confusion, which is characterized by little sense of commitment. This period is followed by a moratorium period, during which the adolescent experiments with different roles, values, and beliefs. Gradually, by choosing among the alternatives and making commitments, the adolescent arrives at an integrated identity.

Moral reasoning

The aspect of cognitive development that has to do with how an individual reasons about moral decisions.

Lawrence Kohlberg

He proposed three distinct levels of moral reasoning: preconventional, conventional, and postconventional. Each level is based on the degree to which a person conforms to conventional standards of society. Each level has two stages that represent different degrees of sophistication in moral reasoning.

Kohlberg’s levels and stages of moral development

I) Preconventional Level; Stage 1 – Punishment and obedience, Stage 2 – Mutual benefit. II) Conventional Level; Stage 3 – Interpersonal expectations, Stage 4 – Law and order. III) Postconventional Level; Stage 5 – Legal principles, Stage 6 – Universal moral principles

Carol Gilligan

Psychologist developed a model of women’s moral development that is based on an ethic of care and responsibility. She found that women tend to stress the importance of maintaining interpersonal relationships and responding to the needs of others, rather than focusing primarily on the individual rights. She believed that men and women had entirely different approaches to moral reasoning.

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