AP Psychology : Cognitive Development

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Cognitive Development

The process of altering one's existing schemas or ideas as a result of new information or new experiences is known as __________.

Possible Answers:

denial

chaining

encoding

accommodation

ablation

Correct answer:

accommodation

Explanation:

The process of accommodation was developed by Jean Piaget during his work on the cognitive development of children. 

Example Question #2 : Cognitive Development

Cody is 7 years old and can tell you that if you pour water from a tall, skinny glass into a fat, short glass, the amount of water stays the same.

According to Piaget, what concept does Cody understand?

Possible Answers:

Abstract thought

Accomodation

Conservation

Assimilation

Egocentrism

Correct answer:

Conservation

Explanation:

Conservation refers to the ability to know that physical properties, like mass and volume, are the same even if the object is in a different form.

Example Question #3 : Cognitive Development

Cody is 7 years old and can tell you that if you pour water from a tall, skinny glass into a fat, short glass, the amount of water stays the same.

According to Piaget, which stage of cognitive development is Cody in?

Possible Answers:

Conventional

Preoperational

Formal operational

Sensorimotor

Concrete operational

Correct answer:

Concrete operational

Explanation:

In the concrete operational stage, children are able to think logically about the physical world and come to conclusions about physical states. Cody's understanding of the fact that properties such as volume do not change based upon a sample's form indicate concrete operation understanding.

Example Question #4 : Cognitive Development

Claudia is 10 years old and has mastered several cognitive tasks. She understands conservation, hierarchical classification, and seriation. However, when her teacher challenges her to engage in hypothetical, abstract reasoning with problems in class, Claudia is unable to solve them. In which stage of Piaget's Cognitive Developmental Theory is Claudia operating?

Possible Answers:

Preoperational 

Formal operational 

Sensorimotor 

Concrete operational 

Correct answer:

Concrete operational 

Explanation:

Children during middle childhood (typically between the ages of 7-11) are limited in their cognitive abilities. Although they perform well when problems or questions are presented in concrete terms (i.e., shape, size, color), they perform poorly on tasks that require them to think beyond the concrete, processing at a more abstract level. Claudia would be classified in the concrete operational stage.

The other stages of Piaget's cognitive development theory are outlined below:

Sensorimotor stage (0-2 years): Children learn about their world through their explorations, using sensory and motor functions. 

Preoperational stage (2-6): Children begin to acquire language and represent symbols. 

Formal Operational stage (12+): Adolescents can engage in deductive and inductive reasoning. 

 

Example Question #2 : Cognitive Development

According to Piaget's theory, due to their advances in cognitive skills, adolescents tend to believe that everyone is looking at them and evaluating them. This is called __________

Possible Answers:

personal fable 

idealistic thinking 

propositional thought 

imaginary audience 

Correct answer:

imaginary audience 

Explanation:

Adolescents think they have an imaginary audience when they believe that everyone is paying attention to them. 

Another limitation of their cognition is personal fable, meaning that they have this unrealistic opionion of themselves. 

Adolescents tend to engage in idealistic thinking, in which they ask "What if" questions, creating a utopia as opposed to a realistic view of the world. 

Propositional thought is actually a cognitive advance during adolescence. They are able to accurately evaluate given verbal statements and rules, without needing to refer to real-world truths or objects. 

Example Question #6 : Cognitive Development

Which concept did the "visual cliff" experiments assess?

Possible Answers:

Retinal disparity

Depth perception 

Eyesight

IQ

Hearing acuity

Correct answer:

Depth perception 

Explanation:

The "visual cliff" experiments were designed to test the point in development at which young children acquire depth perception. Infants and toddlers were placed on a glass table with a gradient illusion, and experimenters observed whether they would cross the gradient. If the child crawled across the entire table, they demonstrated a lack of depth perception because they were unable to see (or be scared of) the visual cliff.

Example Question #3 : Cognitive Development

According to Jean Piaget's stages of cognitive development, the period between ages seven and eleven during which children begin to think logically and have a better understanding of mental operations best corresponds to which term?

 

Possible Answers:

Analytical stage

Formal operational stage

Concrete operational stage

Sensiomotor stage

Preoperational stage

Correct answer:

Concrete operational stage

Explanation:

The stages of cognitive development, according to Jean Piaget, are the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational stages. During the sensorimotor stage—birth through age two—the infant's knowledge is limited to their sensory perceptions and motor activities. Between the ages of two and six, when a child learns to use language, is the preoperational stage. Between the ages of seven and eleven, the child should gain an understanding of mental operations and begin to think logically. This is the concrete operational stage. From age twelve into adulthood, people will develop the ability to think about abstract concepts, and deductive reasoning will develop during the formal operational stage. 

Example Question #8 : Cognitive Development

The theory of an inborn universal grammar was put forth by __________.

Possible Answers:

Noam Chomsky

Dan Everett

John L. Locke

Eric Lenneberg

B.F. Skinner

Correct answer:

Noam Chomsky

Explanation:

In contrast to the behaviorist perspective of language acquisition championed by the like of B.F. Skinner, Chomsky argued that, because children can learn the rules of a language from incomplete evidence, that incomplete evidence must be supplemented by an innate linguistic capacity that all human beings are born with.

Example Question #4 : Cognitive Development

Piaget is known for his theory of child development through stages. He believed children build their understanding of the world through interactions with it. Which of the following concepts is associated with Piaget's theory?

Possible Answers:

Id

Oral

Object permanence 

Sensorimotor 

Egocentrism

Correct answer:

Sensorimotor 

Explanation:

Piaget is known for his stages of cognitive development. These stages include: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. With each stage, Piaget outlined a typical age range. For instance, the sensorimotor stage occurs in the first two years of life. During this stage, the child would experience the world through its actions and senses, which included: grasping, touching, looking, and the like. Although Piaget did believe children experienced egocentrism, he did not categorize it as its own stage. Instead, it is a developmental phenomenon of the preoperational stage. As a result, the choices egocentrism and object permanence are incorrect. The choices oral and id are stages in psychology; however, they are associated with Freud's psychoanalysis and are incorrect. 

Example Question #5 : Cognitive Development

Piaget is known for his theory of child development through stages. He believed children build their understanding of the world through interactions with it. Which of the following concepts best describes the stage of Piaget's theory associated with object permanence?

Possible Answers:

Id

Ego

Preoperational 

Sensorimotor

Concrete operational

Correct answer:

Sensorimotor

Explanation:

Piaget's stages of cognitive development are as follows: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. Piaget associated an age ranges for each stag that specific developmental phenomena occur at. During the first two years of life, a child will go through the sensorimotor stage where a child will experience the world through it senses (i.e. grasping and sight); therefore, object permanence occurs in the sensorimotor stage.

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