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Developmental changes in action:theoretical and methodological issues

Wimmers, R. H. and Beek, P. J. and Savelsbergh, G. J. P. and Hopkins, Brian (1998) Developmental changes in action:theoretical and methodological issues. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 16 (1). pp. 45-63. ISSN 0261-510X

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A tutorial is provided of how the concepts and methods of non-linear dynamical systems theory and, in particular, catastrophe theory can be of help in understanding the development of action. From this theoretical perspective, development is viewed as a complex, time-evolving process in which new behaviours (e.g. reaching, walking, speech) are the product of self-organization. Qualitative changes in behaviour are interpreted—ex hypothesi—as discontinuous non-equilibrium phase transitions or catastrophes. In the context of the study of the development of prehension, it is illustrated how this interpretation can be investigated empirically by testing if specific transition criteria are satisfied. Once the presence of such criteria has been confirmed for the emergence of a particular behaviour, the next step is to determine if a catastrophe model can be found that applies to the data. Preliminary evidence is provided that the developmental change in prehension during the first six months of life is best described as a cusp catastrophe.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: British Journal of Developmental Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Psychology
ID Code: 18943
Deposited By: ep_ss_importer
Deposited On: 07 Nov 2008 14:42
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2014 11:20
Identification Number:

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