Recent studies in developmental psychology have found evidence to suggest that there exists an innate system that accounts for the possibilities of early infant imitation and the existence of phantom limbs in cases of congenital absence of limbs. These results challenge traditional assumptions about the status and development of the body schema and body image, and about the nature of the translation process between perceptual experience and motor ability.
Children's imitation of adults plays a prominent role in human cognitive development. However, few studies have investigated how children represent the complex structure of observed actions which underlies their imitation. We integrate theories of action segmentation, memory, and imitation to investigate whether children's event representation is organized according to veridical serial order or a higher level goal structure. Children were randomly assigned to learn novel event sequences either through interactive hands-on experience or via storybook. Results demonstrate that children's representation of (...) observed actions is organized according to higher level goals, even at the cost of representing the veridical temporal ordering of the sequence. We argue that prioritizing goal structure enhances event memory, and that this mental organization is a key mechanism of social-cognitive development in real-world, dynamic environments. It supports cultural learning and imitation in ecologically valid settings when social agents are multitasking and not demonstrating one isolated goal at a time. (shrink)
Acting in the present in anticipation of the future is argued to be a behavioral correlate of mental time travel (MTT). Yet, it is important to consider how other future-directed behaviors figure into a theory of MTT and future thinking more broadly. Developmental science can help in this formulation.
Children’s math self-concepts—their beliefs about themselves and math—are important for teachers, parents, and students, because they are linked to academic motivation, choices, and outcomes. There have been several attempts at improving math achievement based on the training of math skills. Here we took a complementary approach and conducted an intervention study to boost children’s math self-concepts. Our primary objective was to assess the feasibility of whether a novel multicomponent intervention—one that combines explicit and implicit approaches to help children form more (...) positive beliefs linking themselves and math—can be administered in an authentic school setting. The intervention was conducted in Spain, a country in which math achievement is below the average of other OECD countries. We tested third grade students, using treatment and comparison groups and pre- and posttest assessments. A novelty of this study is that we used both implicit and explicit measures of children’s math self-concepts. For a subsample of students, we also obtained an assessment of year-end math achievement. Math self-concepts in the treatment and comparison groups did not significantly differ at pretest. Students in the treatment group demonstrated a significant increase in math self-concepts from pretest to posttest; students in the comparison group did not. In the treatment group, implicit math self-concepts at posttest were associated with higher year-end math achievement, assessed approximately 3 months after the completion of the intervention. Taken together, the results suggest that math self-concepts are malleable and that social–cognitive interventions can boost children’s beliefs about themselves and math. Based on the favorable results of this feasibility study, it is appropriate to formally test this novel multicomponent approach for improving math self-concepts using randomized controlled trial design. (shrink)