Cognitive development refers to the way an infant perceives, thinks, and gains an understanding of his/her world through the interaction of genetic and learned factors like processing, reasoning, language development, and memory (Theory of development, 2009). This has been studied by many theorists (Erickson, Piaget, Vygotsky, etc) in various ways that all contribute to our understanding of how children develop. One example of an issue debated within this theory was the emergence of the intelligence quotient, or IQ test, brought on by Lewis Terman.
Historical Development of Cognitive Theory
Historically, positive reinforcement was developed by efforts of cognitive therapists and philosophers. Its roots can be traced back to ancient Greek philosophy, Stoicism. "Stoicism is essentially a system of ethics which, however, is guided by logic as theory of method, and rests upon physics as foundation" (Stoicism, 2006). Stoicism is concerned with how we as human understand the events in our lives.
Some of the more recent expansions in cognitive theories were developed by Albert Ellis: Rational-Emotional Theory (RET) and Aaron Beck: Collaborative Empiricism. Albert Ellis believed that man was responsible for his emotions and actions. Under Ellis's theory, illogical thoughts or maladaptive behaviors are the product of the mind needed to learn a new way or perspective. Aaron Beck's theory of Collaborative Empiricism supports the idea that "the way people feel and behavior is determined by how they structure their experience" (Parrott, 2003, p. 332). Realistic goals and outcomes are sought in this therapy.
Positive reinforcement models were influenced by experiments conducted by B.F. Skinner. Through his experiments using lab rats, he recognized that behavior can be controlled by the use of positive and negative reinforcements. He believed that behavior can be changed or altered simply by offering rewards or consequences for non-desired behaviors.