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Developmental and Cognitive Psychology

The fields of developmental and cognitive psychology have provided us with valuable insights into the combined effects of age and cognitive ability on a child's learning readiness. The questions a child may ask, and his or her corresponding ability to understand, will be relative to a particular developmental level. For example, a three-year-old might ask a "why" question, such as "why do people get old?" From time to time, children who have first started asking questions about babies when they were three years of age, will repeat them a little later on if a particular stimulus prompts them. Thus, the five-year-old may very well ask, "How does a newborn baby get out of the mommy?" The five-year-old's seemingly insatiable curiosity may lead to other questions about the mechanisms of natural phenomena, such as "Where does the moon go during the daytime?"

Cognitive-developmental theory has been most completely elaborated on and described by Jean Piaget. He did not study children's emotions or their personality development, although he considered them important. Rather, his interest in examining thought processes and their developmental changes led him to study changes in how children process information as they mature. Consequently, the three-year-old and the five-year-old would not process information in the same manner because each would be at different developmental stages.

The three-year-old who asks why people get old is in Piaget's preoperational stage of development. In this stage, children develop language and other symbolic representations. Intuitive thought is not systematic or sustained (Spodek, 1987, p. 82), yet this does not stop the child from asking questions. Spodek has listed specific cognitive behaviors as compiled by the Missouri State Dept. of Elementary Education's Resource Guide for the Education of Children Ages 3-6 (Spodek, 1987, p. 85). According to the chart, three-year-old children lik...

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Developmental and Cognitive Psychology. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:28, December 07, 2021, from