The preoperational stage lasts from approximately the ages of 2 to 7.
Image by Jeremy Doorten.
The preoperational stage lasts from approximately the ages of 2 to 7.
Image by Jeremy Doorten.
Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development suggests that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses not only on understanding how children acquire knowledge, but also on understanding the nature of intelligence.
||Birth to 2 Years||The infant knows the world through their movements and sensations.||Infants learn that things continue to exist even though they cannot be seen (object permanence).
They are separate beings from the people and objects around them.
They realize that their actions can cause things to happen in the world around them.
Learning occurs through assimilation and accommodation.
||2 to 7 Years||Children begin to think symbolically and learn to use words and pictures to represent objects. They also tend to be very egocentric, and see things only from their point of view.||Children at this stage tend to be egocentric and struggle to see things from the perspective of others.
While they are getting better with language and thinking, they still tend to think about things in very conrete terms.
|Concrete Operational Stage
||7 to 11 Years||During this stage, children begin to thinking logically about concrete events.||They begin to understand the concept of conservation; the the amount of liquid in a short, wide cup is equal to that in a tall, skinny glass.
Thinking becomes more logical and organized, but still very concrete.
Begin using inductive logic, or reasoning from specific information to a general principle.
|Formal Operational Stage
||12 and Up||At this stage, the adolescent or young adult begins to think abstractly and reason about hypothetical problems.||Abstract thought emerges.
Teens begin to think more about moral, philosophical, ethical, social, and political issues that require theoretical and abstract reasoning.
Begin to use deductive logic, or reasoning from a general principle to specific information.
by Kendra Cherry,
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Best Known for:
Birth and Death:
Jean Piaget’s Early Life:
Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland in 1896 and began showing an interest in the natural sciences at a very early age. By age 11, he had already started his career as a researcher by writing a short paper on an albino sparrow. He continued to study the natural sciences and received his Ph.D. in Zoology from University of Neuchâtel in 1918.
Piaget identified himself as a genetic epistemologist. “What the genetic epistemology proposes is discovering the roots of the different varieties of knowledge, since its elementary forms, following to the next levels, including also the scientific knowledge,” he explained in his book Genetic Epistemology. Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the origin, nature, extent, and limits of human knowledge. He was interested not only in the nature of thought, but in how it develops and understanding how genetics impact this process.
His early work with Binet’s intelligence tests had led him to conclude that children think differently than adults. It was this observation that inspired his interest in understand how knowledge grows throughout childhood.
He suggested that children sort the knowledge they acquire through their experiences and interactions into groupings known as schemas. When new information is acquired, it can either be assimilated into existing schemas or accomodated through revising and existing schema or creating an entirely new category of information.
Today, he is best known for his research on children’s cognitive development. Piaget studied the intellectual development of his own three children and created a theory that described the stages that children pass through in the development of intelligence and formal thought processes.
Contributions to Psychology:
Piaget provided support for the idea that children think differently than adults and his research identified several important milestones in the mental development of children. His work also generated interest in cognitive and developmental psychology. Piaget’s theories are widely studied today by students of both psychology and education.
by Kendra Cherry,
Negative reinforcement is a term described by B. F. Skinner in his theory of operant conditioning. In negative reinforcement, a response or behavior is strengthened by stopping, removing or avoiding a negative outcome or aversive stimulus.
Aversive stimuli tend to involve some type of discomfort, either physical or psychological. Behaviors are negatively reinforced when they allow you to escape from aversive stimuli that are already present or allow you to completely avoid the aversive stimuli before they happen.
One of the best ways to remember negative reinforcement is to think of it as something being subtracted from the situation. When you look at it in this way, it may be easier to identify examples of negative reinforcement in the real-world.
Examples of Negative Reinforcement:
Learn more by looking at the following examples:
Can you identify the negative reinforcer in each of these examples? Sunburn, a fight with your roommate and being late for work are all negative outcomes that were avoided by performing a specific behavior. By eliminating these undesirable outcomes, the preventative behaviors become more likely to occur again in the future.
Negative Reinforcement versus Punishment:
One mistake that people often make is confusing negative reinforcement with punishment. Remember, however, that negative reinforcement involves the removal of a negative condition in order to strengthen a behavior. Punishment, on the other hand, involves either presenting or taking away a stimulus in order to weaken a behavior.
Consider the following example and determine whether you think it is an example of negative reinforcement or punishment:
Timmy is supposed to clean his room every Saturday morning. Last weekend, he went out to play with his friend without cleaning his room. As a result, his father made him spend the rest of the weekend doing other chores like cleaning out the garage, mowing the lawn and weeding the garden, in addition to cleaning his room.
If you said that this was an example of punishment, then you are correct. Because Timmy didn’t clean his room, his father assigned a punishment of having to do extra chores.
When Is Negative Reinforcement Most Effective?
Negative reinforcement can be an effective way to strengthen a desired behavior. However, it is most effective when reinforcers are presented immediately following a behavior. When a long period of time elapses between the behavior and the reinforcer, the response is likely to be weaker. In some cases, behaviors that occur in the intervening time between the initial action and the reinforcer are may also be inadvertently strengthened as well.
According to Wolfgang (2001), negative reinforcement should be used sparingly in classroom settings, while positive reinforcement should be emphasized. While negative reinforcement can produce immediate results, he suggests that it is best suited for short-term use.
by Kendra Cherry.
In operant conditioning, positive reinforcement involves anything that follows a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. When a favorable outcome, event or reward occurs after an action, that particular response or behavior will be strengthened.
One of the easiest ways to remember positive reinforcement is to think of it as something being added. By thinking of it in these terms, you may find it easier to identify real-world examples of positive reinforcement.
Examples of Positive Reinforcement:
Consider the following examples:
Can you identify the positive reinforcement in each of these examples? The ski instructor offering praise, the employer giving a bonus and the teacher providing bonus points are all examples of positive reinforcers. In each of these situations, the reinforcement is an additional stimulus occurring after the behavior that increases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future.
An important thing to note is that positive reinforcement is not always a good thing. For example, when a child misbehaves in a store, some parents might give them extra attention or even buy the child a toy. Children quickly learn that by acting out, they can gain attention from the parent or even acquire objects that they want. Essentially, parents are actually reinforcing the misbehavior. In this case, the better solution would be to use positive reinforcement when the child is actually displaying good behavior.
Different Types of Positive Reinforcers:
There are many different types of reinforcers that can be used to increase behaviors, but it is important to note that the type of reinforcer used depends upon the individual and the situation. While gold stars and tokens might be very effective reinforcement for a second-grader, they are not going to have the same effect with a high school or college student.
When Is Positive Reinforcement Most Effective?
When used correctly, positive reinforcement can be very effective. According to a behavioral guidelines checklist published by Utah State University, positive reinforcement is most effective when it occurs immediately after the behavior. The guidelines also recommend the reinforcement should be presented enthusiastically and should occur frequently.
The shorter the amount of time between a behavior and the presentation of positive reinforcement, the stronger the connection will be. If a long period of time elapses between the behavior and the reinforcement, the weaker the connection will be. It also becomes more likely that an intervening behavior might accidentally be reinforced.
by Kendra Cherry.
Classical and operant conditioning are two important concepts central to behavioral psychology. While both result in learning, the processes are quite different. In order to understand how each of these behavior modification techniques can be used, it is also essential to understand how classical conditioning and operant conditioning differ from one another.
Let’s start by looking at some of the most basic differences.
How Classical Conditioning Works:
Even if you are not a psychology student, you have probably at least heard about Pavlov’s dogs. In his famous experiment, Ivan Pavlov noticed dogs began to salivate in response to a tone after the sound had been repeatedly paired with the presentation of food. Pavlov quickly realized that this was a learned response and set out to further investigate the conditioning process.
Classical conditioning involves pairing a previously neutral stimulus (such as the sound of a bell) with an unconditioned stimulus (the taste of food). This unconditioned stimulus naturally and automatically triggers salivating as a response to the food, which is known as the unconditioned response. After associating the neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus, the sound of the bell alone will start to evoke salivating as a response. The sound of the bell is now known as the conditioned stimulus and salivating in response to the bell is known as the conditioned response.
How Operant Conditioning Works:
Operant conditioning focuses on using either reinforcement or punishment to increase or decrease a behavior. Through this process, an association is formed between the behavior and the consequences for that behavior. For example, imagine that a trainer is trying to teach a dog to fetch a ball. When the dog successful chases and picks up the ball, the dog receives praise as a reward. When the animal fails to retrieve the ball, the trainer withholds the praise. Eventually, the dog forms an association between his behavior of fetching the ball and receiving the desired reward.
The Differences Between Classical and Operant Conditioning:
One of the simplest ways to remember the differences between classical and operant conditioning is to focus on whether the behavior is involuntary or voluntary. Classical conditioning involves making an association between an involuntary response and a stimulus, while operant conditioning is about making an association between a voluntary behavior and a consequence.
In operant conditioning, the learner is also rewarded with incentives, while classical conditioning involves no such enticements. Also remember that classical conditioning is passive on the part of the learner, while operant conditioning requires the learner to actively participate and perform some type of action in order to be rewarded or punished.
Today, both classical and operant conditioning are utilized for a variety of purposes by teachers, parents, psychologists, animal trainers and many others. In animal training, a trainer might utilize classical conditioning by repeatedly pairing the sound of a clicker with the taste of food. Eventually, the sound of the clicker alone will begin to produce the same response that the taste of food would.
In a classroom setting, a teacher might utilize operant conditioning by offering tokens as rewards for good behavior. Students can then turn in these tokens to receive some type of reward such as treat or extra play time.
by Kendra Cherry.
Acquisition refers to the first stages of learning when a response is established. In classical conditioning, it refers to the period of time when the stimulus comes to evoke the conditioned response.
How Does It Work?
How does acquisition occur? In classical conditioning, repeated pairings of the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) eventually leads to acquisition. Remember, the unconditioned stimulus is one that naturally evokes the unconditioned response (UCR). After pairing the CS with the UCS repeatedly, the CS alone will come to evoke the response, which is now known as the conditioned response (CR).
Influences on Acquisition:
A number of factors can influence how quickly acquisition occurs. First, the salience of the conditioned stimulus can play an important role. If the CS is to subtle, the learner may not notice it enough for it to become associated with the unconditioned stimulus. Stimuli that are more noticeable usually lead to faster acquisition.
Second, timing plays a critical role. If there is too much of a delay between presentation of the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus, the learner might not form an association between the two. The most effective approach is to present the CS and then quickly introduce the UCS so that there is an overlap between the two. As a rule, the greater the delay between the UCS and the CS, the longer acquisition will take.
by Kendra Cherry.
Behaviorists have described a number of different phenomena associated with classical conditioning. Some of these elements involve the initial establishment of the response, while others describe the disappearance of a response. These elements are important in understanding the classical conditioning process.
Acquisition is the initial stage of learning when a response is first established and gradually strengthened. For example, if you are trying to teach a dog to shake in response to a verbal command, you can say the response has been acquired as soon as the dog shakes in response to only the verbal command. Once the response has been acquired, you can gradually reinforce the shake response to make sure the behavior is well learned.
Extinction is when the occurrences of a conditioned response decrease or disappear. In classical conditioning, this happens when a conditioned stimulus is no longer paired with an unconditioned stimulus. For example, if the smell of food (the unconditioned stimulus) had been paired with the sound of a whistle (the conditioned stimulus), it would eventually come to evoke the conditioned response of hunger. However, if the unconditioned stimulus (the smell of food) were no longer paired with the conditioned stimulus (the whistle), eventually the conditioned response (hunger) would disappear.
Spontaneous Recovery is the reappearance of the conditioned response after a rest period or period of lessened response. If the conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus are no longer associated, extinction will occur very rapidly after a spontaneous recovery.
Stimulus Generalization is the tendency for the conditioned stimulus to evoke similar responses after the response has been conditioned. For example, if a child has been conditioned to fear a stuffed white rabbit, the child will exhibit fear of objects similar to the conditioned stimulus.
Discrimination is the ability to differentiate between a conditioned stimulus and other stimuli that have not been paired with an unconditioned stimulus. For example, if a bell tone were the conditioned stimulus, discrimination would involve being able to tell the difference between the bell tone and other similar sounds.
by Kendra Cherry.
Want to captivate an audience? Here’s how.
Sir Lancelot had the Holy Grail. Captain Ahab had Moby Dick. For scientists who study learning, the ultimate quest is to unlock the secrets of engagement. How do we engage students in learning, and then keep them in that state? So ardent is their search that it can lead them down paths that may seem, to the uninitiated, a bit silly — as demonstrated by two recent developments.
Last month, it emerged that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has directed millions of dollars into educational research, has awarded grants to study the use of galvanic skin response sensors in the classroom. Immediately dubbed “mood bracelets” and “educational pedometers” by critics, these are small devices worn around the wrist that gauge the user’s physiological arousal by measuring the amount of sweat on the skin. The idea is that a teacher instructing a roomful of students wearing the devices would instantly know who was engaged and who was bored or distracted. The problem is that the sensors are inexact indicators of the wearer’s mental state: a student’s nervous system might be active because there’s test coming up next period — or because there’s an attractive classmate one desk over.
Then last week, a professor of physics education at Kennesaw State University in Georgia reported the results of a pilot study using special glasses that track where and how long wearers direct their gaze. After analyzing the data produced by undergraduates who wore the glasses during lectures, professor David Rosengrant concluded that it was not the case, as many teachers believe, that students were most engaged for the first 15 minutes or so of class, after which their attention gradually slacked off. Rather, he said, student engagement ebbed and flowed over the course of the 70-minute lecture, and spiked whenever the professor used humor, stood close to the student, or talked about material that was not included in the Power Point presentation projected on a screen at the front of the room. Rosengrant also determined that cell phones and the web — especially Facebook — were the greatest obstacles to maintaining students’ engagement in the classroom.
Interesting, but hardly revelatory. Clearly, such devices have a long way to go before they can offer real insight into students’ thoughts and feelings. The irony is that, after many years of investigation, scientists already have a pretty good idea of what captures the attention of an audience — whether it’s students in a classroom, a group of coworkers at a meeting, or a gathering of guests in front of whom you’re making a toast. Follow the strategies below, and you won’t need a sweat sensor or special glasses to know that your listeners are fully engaged.
Stimulate curiosity. “Sometimes I think that we, as teachers, are so eager to get to the answers that we do not devote sufficient time to developing the question,” notes Dan Willingham, a cognitive scientist at the University of Virginia. “But it’s the question that piques people’s interest. Being told an answer doesn’t do anything for you.” Take the information you want your audience to know by the end and frame a question that will direct your listeners toward that answer.
Introduce change and surprise. Human beings quickly become habituated to the status quo. When something in our environment shifts, however, we start paying attention again. A good rule of thumb is to switch things up every 15 minutes or so — tell a joke or a story, show a picture, address your topic in a different way.
Stress relevance and concreteness. The human mind can’t handle too much abstraction.
Tell stories. Researchers who study human cognition say that stories are “psychologically privileged” — that is, our minds treat them differently than other kinds of information.
What is Psychosocial Development?
Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is one of the best-known theories of personality in psychology. Much like Sigmund Freud, Erikson believed that personality develops in a series of stages. Unlike Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages, Erikson’s theory describes the impact of social experience across the whole lifespan.
One of the main elements of Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory is the development of ego identity.1 Ego identity is the conscious sense of self that we develop through social interaction. According to Erikson, our ego identity is constantly changing due to new experiences and information we acquire in our daily interactions with others. In addition to ego identity, Erikson also believed that a sense of competence motivates behaviors and actions. Each stage in Erikson’s theory is concerned with becoming competent in an area of life. If the stage is handled well, the person will feel a sense of mastery, which is sometimes referred to as ego strength or ego quality.2 If the stage is managed poorly, the person will emerge with a sense of inadequacy.
In each stage, Erikson believed people experience a conflict that serves as a turning point in development. In Erikson’s view, these conflicts are centered on either developing a psychological quality or failing to develop that quality. During these times, the potential for personal growth is high, but so is the potential for failure.
Psychosocial Stage 1 – Trust vs Mistrust:
Psychosocial Stage 2 – Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt:
by Kendra Cherry.