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Cognition and Development – Beyond Piaget

3. Further Research and Evaluation

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about how the findings of VoE studies such as Baillargeon’s Rotating Drawbridge Study have been tested and evaluated in later research, focusing in particular on: (i) the ‘nativist’ argument which claims that – contrary to Piaget’s theory – infants are born with a certain amount of pre-existing knowledge about the world which causes them to pay more attention to seemingly impossible events; (ii) the challenge to this by Susan Rivera, who suggested that the reason for the infants’ looking behaviour lies not in their conceptual understanding of the impossibility of the event but merely in a preference for looking at events with more motion; (iii) how Rivera’s proposition can be countered on the grounds of scientific parsimony; (iv) a further ongoing debate within developmental psychology which questions whether the type of knowledge that can be gained from looking time tasks is essentially different from the type of knowledge gained from search tasks.


In this course, Dr Richard O’Connor (University of Hull) explores different ideas within the field of cognitive development that go beyond the work of Jean Piaget. In the first lecture, we introduce the violation-of-expectation looking time method as a research technique which has revolutionised our understanding of infant cognition since the 1980s. In the second lecture, we look at the classic violation-of-expectation study by Baillargeon et al. (1985). In the third lecture, we evaluation this research. Next, we think about an alternative set of ideas to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development which focuses on the role of social interactions and culture. In the fifth lecture, we look at the socio-cultural theory of cognitive development proposed by Piaget’s contemporary Lev Vygotsky, focusing on the distinction between ‘elementary’ and ‘higher’ mental functions. In the sixth and final lecture, we think about some key concepts such as the ‘zone of proximal development’.


Dr Richard O’Connor is a cognitive developmental psychology in the Faculty of Health Sciences and School of Psychology and Social Work at the University of Hull. Dr O’Connor’s research interests include theory of mind and word learning. Some of Dr O’Connor’s recent publications include Autistic Adults Show Similar Performance and Sensitivity to Social Cues on a Visual Perspective Taking Task as Non-autistic Adults (In Press) and Stroop interference is a composite phenomenon: Evidence from distinct developmental trajectories of its components (2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

O'Connor, R. (2019, December 16). Cognition and Development – Beyond Piaget - Further Research and Evaluation [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Connor, R. "Cognition and Development – Beyond Piaget – Further Research and Evaluation." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 16 Dec 2019,

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