Developmental Psychology on Knowledge - Dictionary of Arguments
Upton I 55
Knowledge/Developmental psychology/Upton: The idea of knowledge as an enduring mental structure that exists independently of behaviour dominates in the study of cognitive development. In revisiting the> A-not-B error, Smith et al. (1999)(1) take a new approach in attempting to explain what infants do in the A-not-B task rather than what they cannot do. Their explanation focuses on performance and ultimately raises profound questions about what it means to know.
Knowledge/Piaget: It is [the] idea of mental structures that gradually develop over time that underpins Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.
Upton I 56
Achieving the A-not-B task has therefore always been taken to represent a qualitative change in infant thinking; the task can only be completed successfully once the infant has developed a new schema – the object concept.
Dynamic Systems/SmithVsPiaget: Smith et al. (1999)(1) challenge this idea. They argue that, although successful completion of the A-not-B task does suggest a qualitative change in infant behaviour, this change in behaviour actually represents a number of quantitative changes in a complex dynamic system. The A-not-B error is explained in terms of general processes of goal-directed reaching; the erroneous reach back to A is seen as the result of a number of processes that enable the infant to look, discriminate locations, control their posture and plan a motor response. All these processes are brought together and self-organised by the task of reaching for a particular object in a particular context. In this perspective, behaviour and cognition are not separate and there are no causal mechanisms, such as an object concept, that generate a thought or behaviour. In this model what we commonly call knowledge and concepts are distributed across and embedded in behavioural processes.
1. Smith, L.B., Thelen, .E, Titzer, R. and McLin, D. (1999) Knowing in the context of acting: the task dynamics of the A-not-B error. Psychological Review, 106(2): 235–60. Available online at www.indiana.edu/~cogdev/labwork/SmithThelen1999.pdf (accessed 12 March 2011)._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Developmental Psychology 2011