Influences on Social Cognition in Children and Adolescents Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2651 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Children


Thus, how children think and relate to others is heavily influenced by their parents over a number of different factors from parental warmth to the overall style of parenting. Moreover, early attitude formation regarding one's expectations of others, stereotyping, one's political views, etc. are shaped by parental interactions (Grusec, Goodnow & Kuczynski, 2000; White, & Matawie, 2004).

Peer Influences

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As adolescents mature they become more capable of abstract thinking and questioning the status quo (Piaget, 1954). There is a tendency for adolescents to seek others who think like them or who think and act like they wish to be (Dodge, 1993). Much of the study of the impact on peer influence and social cognitive development in children and adolescents has concentrated on the negative connotations. While parents are the child's primary caregivers are the major influences on social cognition development in the early years, it appears that the influence of the child's peers typically begins during the school years and becomes stronger as the child moves in adolescents (Blakemore, 2011). Failure to develop close peer relationships has long been associated with problems such as antisocial behavior, disregard for others, and substance abuse (Hops, Davis, Alpert, & Longoria, 1997). As children move through adolescence they begin to develop knowledge bases based on their interactions with parents, siblings, and peers to help them negotiate through social situations. Dodge (1993) indicated that adolescents who rated their peer relationships more positively were able to propose more mature solutions to problems, propose more alternative solutions to the problems, and were less aggressive than adolescents who rated their peer relationships as being negative.

TOPIC: Research Paper on Influences on Social Cognition in Children and Adolescents Assignment

As children become more mature they also become more heavily influenced by their peers (Blakemore, 2011). In many cases peer influences become stronger than the influence of parents regarding how adolescents think about others (Blakemore, 2011). For example, it is often during adolescence that individuals attempt to break from their parents and internalize the values of their peer group (Blakemore, 2011). At this time adolescents begin to make formulations of others that are heavily influenced by the attitudes of their peers. There is often the need to break away from the primary caregiver and establish a personal self -- identity even though this is often established on the identification of peer values and may not be a self-defining identity (Blakemore, 2011). Thus, peer influences become more substantial as the child matures and begins to absorb different viewpoints which often also include the influence of teachers and others (Blakemore, 2011). Nonetheless, the early influence of parents regarding the social cognitive development of the child remains whether the child moves towards a reactance to parental or other adult influences or looks to confirm already existing beliefs, values, and understandings of the world via peer associations (Blakemore, 2011).

Cultural Factors

Cultural factors also influence social cognitive development in children. Vygotsky's sociocultural theory asserts that a child's development is furthered by their observation of interactions among people, their own interactions with others, and use of these interactions. Vygotsky devised three aspects of cognitive development: internalization, the zone of proximal development, and scaffolding (Wertsch, 1985). Most relevant here is internalization which involves learning or acquiring skills from the social contexts in which one observes them (Wertsch, 1985). Thus, the child's culture determines what a child observes and how they interpret and apply their learning to what they observed. Likewise cultural factors also influence the child's socio-emotional development in much the same way Vygotsky described how culture influences cognitive development and interpretation. A child's culture dictates how the child will develop on an emotional and social level in the child internalizes these aspects of his culture.


Social cognitive development in children and adolescents is a classic example of the interaction between nature (heredity and physical development) and nurture (the environment such as the influence of parents, peers, culture, etc.). As children mature the primary influence on their social cognitive development as their primary caregiver (parents); however, as they become mature and interact with others the influence of their peers, the culture, and numerous other influences such as the media interact to contribute to their maturing social cognition. Thus, social cognition does not develop specifically via the mechanism of reinforcement or biological maturation, but instead is a complicated phenomenon that develops to the interaction of many sources.


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