This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: ed it to the tray. The infant picked it up and dropped it again, and the father
picked it up again. This cycle wet on for quite a while. From the infant’s
perspective, this was a great game because she was initiating an experience
through her behavior. She was acting with the intent of repeating an experience,
and the adults had the privilege of witnessing a circular reaction.
Object permanence. Object permanence is infants’ understanding that
objects continue to exist even when they are out of sight (Piaget, 1954; Piaget &
Inhelder, 1969). Infants demonstrate object permanence by continuing to search
for objects that are partially or completely hidden. Piaget believed that a complete 10 understanding of object permanence did not develop until 18 to 24 months of age,
but other research suggests that object permanence may be present as early as
two-and-one-half months of age (Carey & Xu, 2001). Consider this young
mother’s experience with object permanence.
⇒ Mary remembers a few months ago when she could cause Sally to lose
interest in a toy by putting the toy behind her back. Now, Sally points
and tries to look behind Mary.
Object permanence is important to Piagetians because it means that infants
are starting to make the transition from thinking through their actions to thinking
symbolically with mental representations such as images and ideas. They can use
these symbols to think about objects that they are no longer experiencing directly,
and the development of object permanence provides the basis for the rapid
development of symbolic thought in the next stage.
The preoperational stage begins at the end of the sensorimotor stage and
typically continues until approximately age six or seven. Children’s thinking
during this period is characterized by rapid increases in their ability to think
symbolically, and by a series of characteristics that make their thought processes
quite different from those of older children and adults.
Symbolic thought. Piagetians refer to the ability to think symbolically as
the semiotic function (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). The semiotic function means 11 that children are not restricted to thinking through their immediate and direct
sensorimotor experiences with their environments. They now can manipulate
mental symbols that represent those experiences. The development of the semiotic
function is observable in a number of children’s behavior patterns including
deferred imitation and the capability for symbolic play.
Deferred imitation is the ability to imitate a model that is no longer
present. Deferred imitation involves storing and using symbolic representations of
past experiences in future situations. For example, a young child observes another
child throw a tantrum to get a desired toy. Later that child imitates the same
behavior when trying to get a toy she wants.
Symbolic play or pretend play occurs when children use themselves or
objects in their environment to represent other experiences or objec...
View Full Document
This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.
- Spring '08