An Overview on Jean Piagets Cognitive Developmental Theory

With powerful, ground-breaking insight, Jean Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory produced a revolutionary new look into the cognitive field of psychology. As theories exploring the psychological complexities changed over the years, his work remained important.

Piaget believed that children do not learn in a constant smooth line, but instead experience breakthroughs in their understanding of the world around them. They cannot complete specific psychological tasks until they have matured in that particular area. He proposed four stages of cognitive development.

The first stage of cognitive development is the sensorimotor stage. This occurs from birth until the age of two years. During this stage, a child utilizes sensory experiences like vision and hearing with physical actions in order to understand their world. As they physically affect their world, they start to understand it. At birth, there are reflexes and instincts; however, the child moves towards symbolic thought at the end. They start to understand that they can do things that cause things to happen, such as shaking a rattle and making a noise.

Piaget further divided the sensorimotor stage into six sub-stages. The simple reflexes stage (0-6weeks) include the primary reflexes of sucking, keeping their eyes on interesting moving objects, and the palmer grasp. The First habits and primary circular reactions phase (6 weeks-4 months) includes coordination of sensation with habits and primary circular reactions. In the Secondary circular reactions phase (4-8 months), infants are more oriented to objects. They repeat actions with positive consequences. The Coordination of secondary circular reactions stages (8-12 months) shows the development of logic . There is coordination between means and ends, as well. The Tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity stage (12-18 months) has kids experimenting with new behavior. Finally the Internalization of Schemes (18-24 months) showcases the start of insight and true creativity. When they have reached the end of this stage, they can understand the difference between the self and objects. They also understand object permanence.

The second stage of Jean Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory is the preoperational stage. This occurs from the age of 2 until 7. Children learn to use language at this time. They utilize images and words to represent objects. They may use one attribute to classify objects such as by color or shape. They still mostly take the viewpoint of themselves.

There are two sub-stages of the preoperational stage. The Symbolic Function Substage occurs between the ages of 2 and 4 and shows children using images and symbols in their thinking. Language and pretend play occurs, as do egocentrism and animism. The Intuitive Thought Substage occurs between the ages of 4 and 7. Primitive reasoning starts, and they become very curious. Imitation and play help the children learn.

In the Concrete operational stage, the appropriate use of logic appears. This stage occurs in children between 7-11 years. At six they can understand conservation of numbers. At seven they can understand mass and at nine they can understand weight.

This stage includes a number of important processes. Seriation is when children can sort objects according to an attribute. Transitivity gives them the ability to make transitive inferences as they understand the relationships between items in a logical sequence. Classification lets them name and identify objects according to an attribute. In decentering, they can look at different attributes and factors when problem solving. In reversibility the children understand that things such as objects and numbers can reverse such as in mathematical problems. Conservation is the idea that the arrangement and appearance of objects do not influence the quantity or length.   Egocentrism also goes away as they start to see things from others’ point of view.

The last stage is the formal operations stage, and this occurs from 11 and goes into adulthood. Abstract propositions can be logically handled. Children can also use systematic approaches to test a hypothesis. Problems involving the hypothetical, future and ideology are also explored.

Piaget also discussed accommodation and assimilation. Assimilation focuses on the perception and adaption to new information by humans. People find out new things and have to adapt it to the schemas they already possess. In accommodation, they change their schemas to fit the new information in the environment.

Jean Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory provided a great deal of insight into children and the way in which they develop. His theories were influential in the development of psychology and will continue to influence the field for years to come.