Inter- and Intra-individual Differences in Problem Solving Across the Lifespan

Robert S. Siegler

in Lifespan Cognition

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195169539
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847204 | DOI:
Inter- and Intra-individual Differences in Problem Solving Across the Lifespan

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Among the most striking characteristics of human cognition is its variability, which is present both between people (inter-individual variability) and within a given person (intra-individual variability). Although inter-individual variability has received far more attention, identifying the sources and functions of intra-individual variability may prove to be at least as important for understanding development. This chapter examines two main hypotheses. The first is that substantial variability in higher level cognition is present throughout the lifespan. The second is that people of all ages generally choose adaptively among alternative approaches, subject to constraints of capacity, knowledge, and task conditions. To explore these hypotheses, this chapter considers research findings on strategy use and strategy choice in infancy, childhood, and younger and older adulthood.

Keywords: cognition; inter-individual variability; intra-individual variability; lifespan; capacity; knowledge; infancy; childhood; adulthood

Chapter.  8450 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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