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Cognition and Development – Beyond Piaget

4. Social Interactions and Culture

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the role that social interactions and culture play within cognitive development, focusing in particular on: (i) the fact that, while Piaget is often criticised for ignoring the impact of culture, his theory focuses above all on what he calls ‘necessary’ knowledge, i.e. a type of knowledge that remains constant across cultures (such as the conservation of number); (ii) how this notion of ‘necessary’ knowledge as universal can be complicated; (iii) the research of Russian psychologist Alexander Luria whose field studies in the Uzbek steppe from 1931 demonstrated the significant degree to which cognitive processes are culturally determined.


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 - Social Interactions and Culture [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Connor, R. "Cognition and Development – Beyond Piaget – Social Interactions and Culture." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 16 Dec 2019,

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