Origin of Intelligence in the Child: Selected Works vol 3: Volume 8 (Jean Piaget)

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The child showed no fear of the rat. The child cried when he heard the noise. After several such pairings of the two stimuli, the child was again shown the rat. Now, however, he cried and tried to move away from the rat. In line with the behaviourist approach, the boy had learned to associate the white rat with the loud noise, resulting in crying.

The most famous behaviourist was Burrhus Frederick B. Skinner to , who expanded the principles of behaviourism and also brought them to the attention of the public at large. Skinner Figure 1. And he used the general principles of behaviourism to develop theories about how best to teach children and how to create societies that were peaceful and productive. Skinner even developed a method for studying thoughts and feelings using the behaviourist approach Skinner, , The behaviourist research program had important implications for the fundamental questions about nature and nurture and about free will.

In terms of the nature-nurture debate, the behaviourists agreed with the nurture approach, believing that we are shaped exclusively by our environments. They also argued that there is no free will, but rather that our behaviours are determined by the events that we have experienced in our past. The letter on the screen changed every half second. The participants were asked, whenever they decided to, to press either of two buttons. Then they were asked to indicate which letter was showing on the screen when they decided to press the button.

The researchers analyzed the brain images to see if they could predict which of the two buttons the participant was going to press, even before the letter at which he or she had indicated the decision to press a button. Suggesting that the intention to act occurred in the brain before the research participants became aware of it, the researchers found that the prefrontal cortex region of the brain showed activation that could be used to predict the button pressed as long as 10 seconds before the participants said that they had decided which button to press. Research has found that we are more likely to think that we control our behaviour when the desire to act occurs immediately prior to the outcome, when the thought is consistent with the outcome, and when there are no other apparent causes for the behaviour.

The participants pressed a button to stop the movement. When participants were exposed to words related to the location of the square just before they stopped its movement, they became more likely to think that they controlled the motion, even when it was actually the computer that stopped it.

Because we normally expect that our behaviours will be met with success, when we are successful we easily believe that the success is the result of our own free will.

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When an action is met with failure, on the other hand, we are less likely to perceive this outcome as the result of our free will, and we are more likely to blame the outcome on luck or our teacher Wegner, The behaviourists made substantial contributions to psychology by identifying the principles of learning. The ideas of behaviourism are fundamental to psychology and have been developed to help us better understand the role of prior experiences in a variety of areas of psychology. Science is always influenced by the technology that surrounds it, and psychology is no exception.

Thus it is no surprise that beginning in the s, growing numbers of psychologists began to think about the brain and about human behaviour in terms of the computer, which was being developed and becoming publicly available at that time. The analogy between the brain and the computer, although by no means perfect, provided part of the impetus for a new school of psychology called cognitive psychology.

These actions correspond well to the processes that computers perform. Although cognitive psychology began in earnest in the s, earlier psychologists had also taken a cognitive orientation. Some of the important contributors to cognitive psychology include the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus , who studied the ability of people to remember lists of words under different conditions, and the English psychologist Sir Frederic Bartlett , who studied the cognitive and social processes of remembering.


Bartlett created short stories that were in some ways logical but also contained some very unusual and unexpected events. The idea that our memory is influenced by what we already know was also a major idea behind the cognitive-developmental stage model of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget Other important cognitive psychologists include Donald E.

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Bartlett found that even when his British research participants were allowed to read the story many times, they still could not remember it well, and he believed this was because it did not fit with their prior knowledge. One night two young men from Egulac went down to the river to hunt seals, and while they were there it became foggy and calm. Now canoes came up, and they heard the noise of paddles and saw one canoe coming up to them.

We wish to take you along. We are going up the river to make war on the people. I might be killed. My relatives do not know where I have gone. And the warriors went on up the river to a town on the other side of Kalama.

The people came down to the water and they began to fight, and many were killed. So the canoes went back to Egulac and the young man went ashore to his house and made a fire.

Many of our fellows were killed, and many of those who attacked us were killed. They said I was hit, and I did not feel sick.

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When the sun rose he fell down. Something black came out of his mouth. His face became contorted. The people jumped up and cried. He was dead. Bartlett, In its argument that our thinking has a powerful influence on behaviour, the cognitive approach provided a distinct alternative to behaviourism. According to cognitive psychologists, ignoring the mind itself will never be sufficient because people interpret the stimuli that they experience. And yet the girl might not be so easily fooled. She might try to understand why the boy is making this particular statement at this particular time and wonder if he might be attempting to influence her through the comment.

Cognitive psychologists maintain that when we take into consideration how stimuli are evaluated and interpreted, we understand behaviour more deeply. Cognitive psychology remains enormously influential today, and it has guided research in such varied fields as language, problem solving, memory, intelligence, education, human development, social psychology, and psychotherapy.


The cognitive revolution has been given even more life over the past decade as the result of recent advances in our ability to see the brain in action using neuroimaging techniques. These images are used to diagnose brain disease and injury, but they also allow researchers to view information processing as it occurs in the brain, because the processing causes the involved area of the brain to increase metabolism and show up on the scan. We have already discussed the use of one neuroimaging technique, functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI , in the research focus earlier in this section, and we will discuss the use of neuroimaging techniques in many areas of psychology in the chapters to follow.

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A final school, which takes a higher level of analysis and which has had substantial impact on psychology, can be broadly referred to as the social-cultural approach. An important aspect of social-cultural psychology are social norms — the ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving that are shared by group members and perceived by them as appropriate Asch, ; Cialdini, Norms include customs, traditions, standards, and rules, as well as the general values of the group.

Many of the most important social norms are determined by the culture in which we live, and these cultures are studied by cross-cultural psychologists. Cultures influence every aspect of our lives, and it is not inappropriate to say that our culture defines our lives just as much as does our evolutionary experience Mesoudi, Children in Western cultures are taught to develop and to value a sense of their personal self, and to see themselves in large part as separate from the other people around them.

Children in Western cultures feel special about themselves; they enjoy getting gold stars on their projects and the best grade in the class. Adults in Western cultures are oriented toward promoting their own individual success, frequently in comparison to or even at the expense of others. Norms in the East Asian culture, on the other hand, are oriented toward interdependence or collectivism. In these cultures children are taught to focus on developing harmonious social relationships with others. When asked to describe themselves, the members of East Asian cultures are more likely than those from Western cultures to indicate that they are particularly concerned about the interests of others, including their close friends and their colleagues Figure 1.

Cultures also differ in terms of personal space, such as how closely individuals stand to each other when talking, as well as the communication styles they employ. It is important to be aware of cultures and cultural differences because people with different cultural backgrounds increasingly come into contact with each other as a result of increased travel and immigration and the development of the Internet and other forms of communication. In Canada, for instance, there are many different ethnic groups, and the proportion of the population that comes from minority non-White groups is increasing from year to year.

The social-cultural approach to understanding behaviour reminds us again of the difficulty of making broad generalizations about human nature.

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Different people experience things differently, and they experience them differently in different cultures. Because the field of psychology is so broad, students may wonder which areas are most suitable for their interests and which types of careers might be available to them. One way that the findings of psychological research may be particularly helpful to you is in terms of improving your learning and study skills. Psychological research has provided a substantial amount of knowledge about the principles of learning and memory.

This information can help you do better in this and other courses, and can also help you better learn new concepts and techniques in other areas of your life. The most important thing you can learn in college is how to better study, learn, and remember.

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These skills will help you throughout your life, as you learn new jobs and take on other responsibilities. There are substantial individual differences in learning and memory, such that some people learn faster than others. But even if it takes you longer to learn than you think it should, the extra time you put into studying is well worth the effort.

To learn well, you need to be ready to learn. You cannot learn well when you are tired, when you are under stress, or if you are abusing alcohol or drugs. Try to keep a consistent routine of sleeping and eating.