Jean Piagets Cognitive Developmental Theory

Jean Piaget is an important personality in educational psychology who formulated a profound model of human cognitive development. As noted by Spencer Rathus in his book “Childhood and Adolescence: Voyages in Development” published in 2007, this model of development formulated and proposed by Piaget explains the different levels and skills that both children and adults undergo. These cognitive stages that Piaget proposed are: (1) sensorimotor, (2) pre-operational, (3) concrete operational and (4) formal operational stages.

The sensorimotor is a stage during 0-2 years of age. According to Piaget’s observation, babies or toddlers in this stage only focus on the development of their senses as well as their motor skills. They are unable to utilize their mental faculty during this stage due to their lack of capability to create an internal mental representation such as mental images.

Next, the pre-operational is a stage during 2-7 years of age. During this stage, children are now able to utilize their mental and verbal faculties.  Though their use of imagination and language are still limited, they shift their development from purely sensory and motor towards activities that involve mental and verbal skills. Nevertheless, most of their judgments and understanding are based on impulse instead of logic and reason.

After the pre-operational stage of development, the concrete operational stage follows during 7-11 years of age. This stage of development entails the development of their mental operation that is more complex and profound. Compared to children under the pre-operational stage, the judgments and ideas of children belonging in concrete operational stage are characterized as more rational and logical. They begin to understand more abstract concepts such as volume, mass, weight, space, time, and numbers. This signals the capability of children under concrete operational stage to operate on more complex tasks and processes compared to younger children.

The final stage of Piaget’s theory of human cognitive development happens when the child is 11 years and up. In fact, this stage is wherein most teens and adults belong. During the formal operational stage, more complicated abstract concepts take hold. This includes abstract ideas of liberty and individualism. They tend to withdraw from egocentric behaviors and become more inclined toward attitudes directed for the well-being or welfare of other people.

This discussion is only a basic overview of Jean Piaget’s model for human development. Piaget’s ideas contribute much to the understanding of the development of both children and adults. A deeper study of Piaget’s writings will reveal more about the nature of human development.


Rathus, S. (2007). Childhood and Adolescence: Voyages in Development. Cengage Learning.