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date: 19 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Children learn to think through the appropriation, use, and adaptation of social practices and the material and symbolic tools of their culture. Social processes are the means through which these practices and tools become part of the child’s cognitive repertoire. To describe cognition in childhood from a cultural perspective, this chapter discusses the sociocultural approach to cognitive development along with ideas from evolutionary developmental psychology that support this view. It focuses on four social learning processes through which children come to understand and engage in culture: behavioral observation, sharing of knowledge in reciprocal interaction, explicit efforts to instruct or transmit knowledge, and participation in cultural activities. Empirical support for each of these processes is also discussed.

Keywords: cognitive development, sociocultural theory, cultural psychology, cross-cultural psychology, cognitive socialization, ecocultural theory, evolutionary psychology, dynamic systems

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