Psychology: Cognitive and Moral Development

Topics: Jean Piaget, Theory of cognitive development, Kohlberg's stages of moral development Pages: 8 (3141 words) Published: March 21, 2011
Cognitive and Moral Development

A Research Paper

Cognitive Development in Childhood
Early psychological studies on child development emphasized that children are just mere recipients of the information showed and given to them by the older individuals around them as they grow up. They believed that children have no active participation on their cognitive development per se and that they do not have the ability to construct a world of their own. It is not until the 1960s when Jean Piaget, a Swiss developmental psychologist, introduced his theory of cognitive development that psychologists found out a new light in understanding children’s ways of thinking and mental processing which shows in their stimuli responses and behaviors.

Object Permanence
Piaget has four-stage theory: the sensorimotor stage; the preoperational stage; the stage of concrete operations and; the stage of formal operations. The sensorimotor stage can be observed in the first 2 years of a child’s life. It is where infants start discovering the consequences of their actions. In this stage object permanence is discovered. According to the book of Atkinson & Hilgard on the 14th edition of Introduction to Psychology, object permanence, as termed by Piaget, is the awareness and understanding that an object or an event continues to exist even when it cannot directly be seen, heard, or touched. It is acquired by the human infants between 8 and 12 months of age via the process of logical induction to help them develop secondary schemes in their sensory-motor coordination. This step is the essential foundation of the memory and the memorization process. Jean Piaget argued that object permanence is one achievement a person or an infant can accomplish. In Piaget's theory of cognitive development, infants develop this understanding by the end of the "sensorimotor stage," which lasts from birth to about 2 years of age. Piaget thought that an infant's perception and understanding of the world depended on their motor or physical development, which was required for the infant to link visual, tactile, and motor representations of objects. According to this view, it is through touching and handling objects that infants develop object permanence. Piaget studied the concept of object permanence by conducting relatively simple tests on infants. For example, he would show an infant or a young baby a toy and then cover it with a blanket. A child who had a clear concept of object permanence might reach for the toy or try to grab the blanket off the toy. A child who had not yet developed object permanence might appear distressed that the toy had disappeared.

Series of experiments were done with different respondents. Their ages vary from 0 to 2 years old. Each child was presented with a toy which they can look at. When the toy is presented to the first child, he tried to grab hold of that toy. The same thing happened to the succeeding child respondents. According to what was observed, infants are more attracted to objects that are colorful and that produce sound. Although their reactions have been somehow similar at their first glimpse of the object, the result of when the object is hidden varies especially with the age difference. The youngest of them who is at his 4th month of age, acted as if nothing happened after losing sight of the toy but the one and a half year old kid cried. Some of them might have been distracted by the other objects surrounding them but some still continued to look for the missing object. This happened because children who are below 2 years old usually do not have object permanence but in some cases, the child’s cognitive development can mature early. If a child below 2 years old is presented with a toy and the toy was hidden, the child will look at another object instead of looking for the object that was hidden. However, with children who have developed object permanence, even though...
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