Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development is the most influential theory of cognition. Jean Piaget was a Swiss Psychologist. He lived from 1896 to 1980. He proposed that cognitive development in children proceeds through four stages. The order of these stages is fixed. The development in children is different than that of adults. The understanding, knowledge acquired and information processed at each stage is different. When the child reaches an sufficient level of maturation in one stage, it moves to the next stage.

Stages of Development/Understanding in Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive development

These four stages of understanding in children include sensorimotor stage, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. The detail description of each stage of Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development is as follows.

Sensorimotor Stage:

This stage span over a time period birth to about 1.5 – 2 years. Object permanence has not been developed in the neonates. It appears at about eight months of age. Object permanence is the understanding that objects exist even if they are out of the sight. The have little competence in explaining the surroundings with the use of images, symbols and language. Sensory and motor operations are mostly functional which means that they use their senses and do some actions. Another phenomenon that develops in sensory motor stage is the anxiety from stranger. It shows that the child has not grown enough socially.

Pre operational Stage:

This stage of cognitive development continues from 2 to about 6 – 7 years. Development of language is an important development in this phase. Children describe feelings, events and people using an inborn representational system which normally does not involve logical reasoning. Symbols are used in play pretending. According to Piaget, children in this age show ego-centrism. They find it difficult to accept other’s perspective. A sense of we and they develops in them. They consider objects related to them as superior over other’s.

Concrete Operational Stage:

Concrete operation is the third stage in Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. Children of age ranging between 7 to 12 years fall in this stage. The principles of conservation are mastered by the children. They start thinking more logically. They also learn the principle of reversibility which means that some changes can be undone by doing the reverse process. The ego-centrism of preoperational is lost to a large extent. Mathematical calculations and arithmetic problems are learnt by the children.

Piaget's theory of Cognitive development

Formal Operational Stage:

From 12 years onward this stage is marked by the emergence of new kind of thinking. This thinking is more logical, abstract and formal. They also develop the potential for mature moral and ethical reasoning. This stage continues till the adulthood. By formal operational thinking Piaget meant systematic reasoning which is fully developed. Some limitations in conservation are also removed.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development can be considered as the one with most elaboration. It successfully describes the mental changes experienced by children as they interact with their environment. For more information and insights about psychological theories follow the link here.

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