Cognitive development of a child in behavioral psychology - Child psychology

Cognitive development of a child in behavioral psychology

Consider the processes identified in psychology from the standpoint of the behavioral theory of behaviorism - one of the tasks faced by behaviourists. Memory was seen as the ability of an individual to reproduce a skill after a while, during which his exercise did not occur. The reproduction itself can be either as successful as before the break, or there may be undesirable additions or other significant changes. Since the skill is accompanied not only by motor, but also by voice responses, then during the reproduction there may be disagreements between the speech and motor plans. For example, a child showing an adult to an object (which indicates that he has somehow identified him) makes it difficult to name him. Just like the formation of skills, the memory of a person develops. If initially memory is built on instinctive and reflex movements, i.e. on actions of the lowest level, then they begin to change in the process of adaptation to situations and form skills. Thus, memory begins to move to a higher level, after which the skills are even more complicated and turn into skills of the next level. Consider the following example, described by the founder of the Society of Cognitive Science D. Norman. Studying the Morse code, he achieved a maximum recognition speed of 15 words per minute. This speed did not increase despite further training, i.e. the skill remained at the same level. In behaviorism, the phenomenon of retaining skill parameters over long periods of training has been called the "learning plateau". Later D. Norman realized the reason for his failure - he will distinguish words by letters, and not by combinations of letters, words or whole expressions. The formation of any skill is reflected in the so-called learning curves, where the number of attempts to perform an action is plotted along the abscissa axis, and the success rate of the skill (for example, the number of words recognized per minute) along the ordinate axis. In fact, at first, in the process of working out a skill, the success rates of its performance increase, but in due course there comes a time when the level of mastering the skill ceases to change. In this case, either the person remains at the level of the plateau, or goes to a higher level (for example, by enlarging units in the skill of recognizing words).

Similar patterns can be traced in the development of speech and thinking. Behaviorists pointed out that the child has innate vocal responses, based on which (through imitation), speech skills begin to develop. However, if for imitation of simple movements (as, for example, the folding of both hands), imitation does not play an important role, then for the mastering of speech skills it turns out to be essential. Imitation, in turn, is associated with the reaction of the parents. Adults catch each new sound pronounced by the baby, actively reproduce it and thereby return it to the child, which increases the formation of the skill. However, as J. Watson emphasized, in this case there is an apparent imitation. This means that the reproduction of the sound by parents gives the child's voice mechanism an additional stimulus that enhances its activity.

Speech skills develop only if they, firstly, are related to the activity of the hands and feet of the child, and secondly, they can replace these movements. A typical example of such a substitution is associated with the interaction of the child with the toy. If the toy is out of sight of the child, then, from the point of view of behaviorists, he will show concern and make any sounds (say, say "ta-ta") until he gets the desired object. It can happen that at this moment an adult will stretch out a toy to a baby and say: "Here's yours, that's". After numerous repetitions, the word ta-ta will replace the motor activity of the child: it will be enough to pronounce it, and the adult will give him a toy. With the help of the word, children can force an adult to perform the required actions, and thus the child develops more complex speech skills.

As studies of behaviorists have shown, at an early age there is a sharp increase in speech activity, which is manifested, for example, in the increase in the vocabulary of the child. Such rapid development is due to a special situation of increased stimulation by adults in the early stages of child development (due to the fact that the child spends a lot of time with an adult). As children grow older, they often remain alone, and under such conditions a loud speech (a speech pronounced aloud) turns out to be meaningless. But since speech skills are closely related to the motor skills, then every performance of the movement involves speech activity. This circumstance leads to a reduction in the pronunciation of words aloud - the child begins to speak first in a whisper, and then to himself, which in fact represents the process of thinking.

According to behaviorists, there are three main situations in the thinking process:

1) simple deployment of speech skills outside (for example, when you want to answer aloud a question ("how many will be two plus two?"), which requires only playback, i.e., retrieving the material from memory):

2) verbal behavior in which only mechanical reproduction is impossible (for example, when a child tries to use mathematical formulas to solve a problem);

3) behavior in the situation of new tasks.

The latter case is the most characteristic for the process of thinking. Since the process of thinking is regarded as speech behavior without an acoustic shell, it can be interpreted analogously to the behavior of a rat in a labyrinth. The child has various speech skills that guide his movement: when he speaks a particular word, he (if the word is not connected with the solution of the problem) rests on a dead end and changes the trajectory of the movement. This happens until the child has made the right decision.

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