One of the typical characteristics of human development is that children have to give meaning to the stimuli they encounter and the experiences they have. These meanings are stored in memory and guide future decisions about the world so that children (and later, adults) do not have to evaluate every known stimulus or experience anew. To explain this process, many researchers have suggested that children develop cognitive schemas about these stimuli.

A schema is considered a summary or set of generalizations made about a stimulus or event based on real-world experience. Schemas are thought to capture the essence, or central features, of the things we encounter in our lives. This entry provides an overview of theory and definition about cognitive schemas, discusses schema development, and explains ...

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