Cognitive Development: Formal Operational Stage

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Children have developed the ability to...

Follow the form of an argument without having to know anything about its content

For example...

A is bigger than B, B is bigger than C and so A is bigger than C. They do not have to know what A,B or C are

They can also think...

Hypothetically- they can think about what could be as well as what actually is

What kind of concepts can they think about- with example

Abstract concepts such as humans having tails

Formal Operational thinkers however, are not limited to thinking about previously acquired facts because...

they can generate hypotheses, whats possible is more important to them than what is real

Children can think...

Inductively (specific to broad generalisations)

This is typically the way...

scientists think when they generate hypotheses and test them systematically

In this stage, children can approach problems in a ...way due to...

-systematic
-hypothetical deductive reasoning (they can come up with a hypothesis and do tests on it)

Evidence comes from...
The experiment involved...

studies performed by Piaget in 1958
A pendulum on a strong was tested to see if the length of string, size of pendulum and force it was pushed with affected speed by children

Results shown that...

Pre-operational children thought only force affected it
Concrete-operational children often said it was the strength length but couldnt seperate it from the others (they had no system, it was random)
Formal operational children managed to solve the problem by working out systematically, testing one feature at a time.

However this study lacks ecological validity because...

It is a very ambiguous and unrealistic task. Children hardly ever push pendulums in reality (if ever)
Plus, they may have found the experiment tedious.

Piaget (...) believed that the transition from concrete operations to formal operational reasioning takes place very gradually because...

-1970
-11-13 year olds can consider simply hypothetical propositions such as having a third eye but arent good at generating and testing them (they will say to put it on your face rather than your eye or somewhere creative)

Other investigators found that adolescents are...

much slower to acquire formal operations than piaget thought

Literature reviews suggest that actually...

a lot of american adults do not reason at a formal level, and it seems that some culutures have no adults can solve piagets formal operational problems

Cross-cultral research suggests that this is because of...

A lack of schooling that stresses logic, mathematics and science

Piaget believed that these experiences...

helps the child to reason at a formal level

However, Piaget sugested another possibility, it may be that almost all adults can reason at the formal level but...

they only do so on problems they find interesting or are vitally important to them

An example is...

Australian Bushman hunters who fail at Piagets test problems but can reason at the formal level on tracking prey as this requires systematic testing of hypotheses

We see a familiar phenomenon with...

high school college students.
They reason more abstractly about relevant everyday issues that theyre already familiar with, but physics and social science students are all more likely to perform at the formal level that fall within their own subject areas

The fact that formal operational thinking is found more often among young people or adults in western or other industrialised cultures can be interpreted as...

being due to the fact that such cultures include high levels of technology and complex styles that demand more formal operational thought

Therefore all non-retarded people have the capacity for formal logic but...

only those of us whose lives demand its development will actually acquire it

All of these explanations go against the very notion of...

a universal stage of thinking in adolescence, yes more abstract forms of thinking may develop in adolescence but theyre neither universal nor broadly used by individual teenagers or adults

Whether one develops or uses these forms of logic depends heavily on...

experience, expertise and environmental demand

Brief A01's for Formal Operational Stage

-Can follow an argument without having to know about content
-Can think hypothetically, abstract concepts
-can generate hypotheses and think inductively
-Piaget (1970)

Brief A02's for Formal Operational Stage

-Evidence for systematic thinking from Piaget (1958)
-Adolescents slower to acquire formal operations than Piaget thought
-Cross cultural studies, schooling that stresses logic
-Australian bush men
-High school students
-Due to technology and complex lifestyles, only developed if we require it
-All explanations go against a universal stage of thinking

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