Cognitive Development in Infancy and Childhood
Infants need to gain perceptual and motor skills—so that they can perceive the world and move around in it. But they also need to gain an understanding of the world in which they reside. This understanding includes simple facts about the physical world (for example, objects will fall if not adequately supported) and facts about events (for example, pouring liquid from one glass to another does not change the quantity of liq-uid). They also need to learn a great deal about other people—that others have different preferences and different knowledge, and that each person tends to act in accord with his own preferences, and more.
Researchers who focus on cognitive development study the growth of the child’s under-standing; for many decades, their exploration focused on claims developed by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896–1980). Though many of Piaget’s claims have been dis-puted, we cannot begin the study of cognitive development without considering Piaget’s views, since the data he amassed and the way he framed the issues have helped shape the work of subsequent investigators.
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