Piaget`s Theory of Cognitive Development

Piaget’s Theory of
• Piaget proposed that cognitive development,
or development of mental abilities, occurs as
we adapt to the changing world around us.
• According to Piaget adaption to the world
around us occurs through two closely related
processes called assimilation and
• Involves the process of taking in new
information and fitting it into and making it
part of a existing mental idea (schema) about
objects or the world.
• For example an infant may
see a truck and call it a car
because the infants schema
only has knowledge of cars.
• Sometimes we can not
assimilate information into
our existing schema
therefore we must
• Accommodation refers to
changing an existing
schema in order to fit in
new information.
Sensorimotor Stage
(birth to two years)
• In this stage infants construct their
understanding of the world by coordinating
sensory experiences with motor abilities.
• At the end of this stage an infant should have
mastered the following two cognitive
– Object Permanence
– Goal directed behaviour
Object Permanence
• Object Permanence refers to the
understanding that objects still exist even if
they cannot be seen or touched.
• For example peek-a-boo game, out of sight,
really is out of mind!
Goal- Directed Behaviour
• An infant at this stage develops goal-directed
behaviour which is behaviour carried out with
a particular interest in mind. They will be
begin to think about things that want and how
it get them.
Pre-operational Stage
(2-7 years)
At this stage the infant becomes more able to
think about and imagine things in their own
mind. The key cognitive accomplishments at
this stage are:
- Egocentrism
- Animism
- Transformation
- Centration
- Reversibility.
• Children in this stage are unable or have
difficulty in seeing things from another
person’s perspective.
• For example a child may want a toy truck for
his birthday, when then child is asked what
their mother would like for her birthday the
child may say toy truck.
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• The belied that everything which exists has a
conscience awareness.
• For example a child may tell you off for
banging your books on the table because you
will ‘hurt’ the table if you bang it too hard
• Understanding that something can change
from one for or state to another.
• For example a child may understand an ice
block, then a glass of water but not
comprehend the melting process of how it has
changed forms
• This process involves a child only being able to
focus on one quality or feature of an object at a
• The ability to follow a line of reasoning back to
its original starting point.
• For example Jim was asked if he has a brother,
he replied ‘’Yes, his name is Tom”. Jim was then
asked does Tom have a brother, he replied “no”.
Concrete Operational Stage
(7-12 years)
• The thinking of a concrete operational chilld
revolve around what they know and what they
can experience. The key cognitive
accomplishments in this stage are:
• Conservation
• Classification
• Refers to the idea that an object does not
change its weight, mass volume or area when
the object changes its shape or appearance.
• The ability to organise
information into categories
based on common features
that sets them apart from
other classes or groups.
• For example pre-operational
child will be able to classify
farm animals and understand
although they are all
together they all belong to
different groups.
Formal Operational Stage
12 years+
• More complex thought processes become evident
in this stage the key cognitive accomplishments:
• Abstract Thinking
A way of thinking that does not rely on visualising
concepts in order to understand them.
• Logical Thinking
Individuals are able to develop strategies, solve
problems and identify solutions to problems.

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