Kathleen M. Galotti
17 Development of Human Thought
- The term, thinking, covers a number of cognitive processes that processes information. Examples include problem solving, reasoning, decision making, goal setting, and planning.
- Thinking often makes use of two other cognitive realms: language, and the knowledge base.
- Although Piagetian theory holds that before the age of about two, infants lack capacity for
mental representation and therefore, thought, recent work poses a strong challenge to this tenet. Psychologist Renee Baillageron and her colleagues have shown that even three- to six-month-old infants have expectations about the way objects behave, indicating they already have some knowledge and some rudimentary reasoning abilities.
- Preschoolers show an ability to draw deductive inferences under certain conditions. These abilities are fragile, but present.
- Preschoolers develop an elaborate theory of mind during the ages from two to five, learning to understand and predict what beliefs, expectations, emotions, and preferences another person might hold.
- Children’s inferential reasoning begins to look very similar to that of adults when the inferences involve concrete examples.
- Adolescents are much more capable than younger children of thinking hypothetically, about the future, and abstractly. This enriched ability is critical to another task of adolescence, developing an identity, a mature sense of who you are and what your goals, values, and principles are.