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Chapter 7 - Conceptual Development How Children Develop(3rd...

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Conceptual Development How Children Develop (3rd ed.) Siegler, DeLoache & Eisenberg Chapter 7
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Concepts l General ideas or understandings that can be used to group together objects, events, qualities, or abstractions that are similar in some way l Crucial for helping people make sense of the world
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Perspectives on Concepts l Nativists argue that innate understanding of concepts plays a central role in development. l Empiricists argue that concepts arise from basic learning mechanisms. Because early development is so crucial, we will focus on development in the first five years.
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Overview l I. Understanding Who or What l II. Understanding Where, When, Why, and How Many
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I. Understanding Who or What A. Dividing Objects into Categories B. Knowledge of Other People and Oneself C. Knowledge of Living Things
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I. Understanding Who or What l Dividing the objects children encounter in the world into categories helps children answer two questions: l What kinds of things are there in the world? l How are those things related to each other?
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A. Dividing Objects into Categories l Beginning early in development, children attempt to understand what kinds of things there are in the world by dividing the objects they perceives in three general categories: l inanimate objects l people l living things l A major way in which children form categories to figure out how things in the word are related to one another is by dividing objects into category hierarchies (i.e., categories related by set-subset relations).
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Object Hierarchies
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1. Categorization of Objects in Infancy l Infants form categories of objects in the first months of life. l A key element in infants’ thinking is perceptual categorization , the grouping together of objects that have similar appearances. l Infants categorize objects along many perceptual dimensions, including color, size, and movement. l Often their categorizations are based on parts of objects rather then on the object as a whole.
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1. Categories of Objects in Infancy l As children approach their second birthday, they increasingly categorize objects on the basis of overall shape. l At the same time, they also form categories on the basis of function , and can use their knowledge of categories to determine which actions go with which type of objects
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2. Categorization of Objects Beyond Infancy l As children move beyond infancy, their ability to categorize expands greatly. l Two of the most important trends l increasing understanding of category hierarchies l increasing understanding of causal connections l both involve knowledge of relations among categories
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Category Hierarchies l Often include three main levels: l a general one, the superordinate level l a very specific one, the subordinate level l one in between, the basic level l Children usually learn the basic level category first, because objects at this level share many common characteristics (unlike superordinate level categories), and because category members are relatively easy to discriminate (unlike those in subordinate level categories).
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