About this Research Topic
The purpose of this Research Topic is to shed light on the role of objects in children’s typical and/or atypical development. To achieve this, we would like to explore two viewpoints on the relationship between children and objects that is established during the course of development. In this respect, we have proposed a theoretical and methodological articulation between:
1) How social and cognitive development influence how children interact with objects
2) How this interaction can affect their social and cognitive development.
As documented by literature, children gradually acquire conventional use of objects through-out complex sequences of interactions with others, such as adults, peers, and younger and/or older partners. Meanwhile, children acquire non-conventional and post-conventional uses for objects during their development. They can use and combine objects in, particularly creative ways. In this respect, the study on the effects of object-related activities on social and cognitive development represents an intriguing field of research for Psychology, and it can better highlight intersubjectivity and interobjectivity processes.
Researchers in this field should consider a sociomaterial perspective that takes into account the role of objects in development.
What characteristics should this perspective have to be innovative with respect to tradition?
First, such a perspective should consider sociomateriality, a significant dimension throughout development. Piaget was one of the first scientists to propose an interesting and sophisticated theory of the relationships between the child and the physical world. He namely described a form of intelligence, sensorimotor intelligence, which took shape in the early stages of biopsychic development. Because of subsequent interdisciplinary research, the fundamental role of corporeity and the function of artifacts in every phase of development was later recognized. The second characteristic refers to the need for a more general theoretical and methodological issue concerning the "subject-object" unit of analysis. Several authors, for example, consider artifacts as authentic extensions of the mind integrated inseparably into psychological activity.
Consistent with the theories mentioned above, the distinction between subject and object is replaced by a new unit of analysis constituted by the interaction of these two elements. In other related perspectives, the objects involved in the activities are considered mediators of human interactions: in that sense, to communicate means pragmatically acting in a world that is not only social but also sociomaterial.
This kind of sociomaterial perspective seems to be a promising paradigm for the study of social and cognitive development.
Specific research questions in typical and/or atypical development that can be addressed by this Research Topic include (but are not limited to) the following:
- The acquisition of conventional, non-conventional, and post-conventional use of objects during children’s interactions with adults or other children
- The use of objects as mediators of social interaction
- The role of objects in different psychological processes, such as joint attention, imitation, gaze-follow, etc.
- The role of objects in verbal and non-verbal communications
We will consider and welcome both qualitative, quantitative or mixed analysis and case studies involving children with typical and/or atypical development.
We welcome different article types contributions, including, Original Research manuscripts, Methods, Opinion Hypothesis & Theory papers, etc.
Keywords: sociomateriality, typical psychological development, atypical psychological development, object use
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.