Disorder in the Representational Warehouse

Victoria McGeer and Eric Schwitzgebel

Child Development, 77 (2006), 1557-1562

Abstract: Although developmental psychologists are generally happy to endorse dissociationist and gradualist views of development like Woolley’s (this issue), the design and interpretation of developmental research often suggests an implicit commitment to a cleaner, less dissociative, sudden-transition view of development.  Such an implicit commitment may derive some of its power from the “representational warehouse” model of cognition and development that rose to prominence in the cognitive revolution.  An alternative model of cognition and development, grounded in dispositional patterns of responding to stimuli, more naturally accommodates dissociative phenomena in development – but one trouble with such a model is its apparent ability to accommodate any data, and thus its failure to generate risky predictions of the sort that guide research.  We address this problem directly by pointing toward some empirically substantive mechanisms consonant with a dispositional approach – mechanisms for self-regulation and for fashioning and deploying representations, or depictions, in a uniquely human way.

This essay is a commentary on Jacqueline Woolley's "Verbal-Behavioral Dissociations in Development", in the same issue of Child Development.  However, it is written to be comprehensible without advance knowledge of the Woolley.

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