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The impact of Piaget's work can be seen to this very day in areas such as Developmental Psychology, Education, and many other areas in relation to child psychology. One of his most important contributions to our understanding of child psychology was his Four Stages of Cognitive Development. As the name suggests, this theory puts forward the idea that there are four stages in a child's development, with regards to how they take in information about the world around them. These stages are as follows:

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1. Sensorimotor Stage: The earliest stage, associated primarily with the time from birth to age two, approximately. In this stage, the infant learns about the environment, through his/her senses and movements. They learn that they are a separate entity from everyone and everything else in the world, and that everything else continues to exist in the world, even if there is a period, in which they cannot sense these things (object permanence). There are 6 substages to the Sensorimotor stage;

  1. Simple Reflexes - Birth to 6 weeks (sucking and palmar grasp),
  2. First Habits and Primary Circular Reactions Phase - 6 week to 4 months (habits like reflexes and the reproduction of a chance event),
  3. Secondary Circular Reactions Phase - 4 - 8 months (the development of coordination between vision and prehansion. The child will also start to develop logic),
  4. Coordination of Secondary Circular Reactions Phase - 8 - 12 months (hand-eye coordination, "first proper intelligence" and the development of goal orientation),
  5. Tertiary Circular Reactions, Curiosity and Novelty - 12 - 18 months (The child will create pseudo-experiments with different objects. The "Young Scientist Phase") and
  6. Internalization of Schemes - 18 - 24 months (The child will develop a sense of insight and creativity).

2. Preoperational Stage: The next stage in development, occurs at around the time that the child begins to walk and talk. At this point, the child is beginning to be able to think logically, about how actions are performed though their sense of logic is not "concrete" just yet. Typically, they need to actually perform an action themselves, to understand how it works. During this stage, the child's thoughts generally become "egocentric", that is, they have an inability to put themselves in the shoes of others, to empathise, and are only able to see things from their own perspective. Imagination and fantasy, play a big part in the child's thoughts, and typically, when the child takes in information, he/she will change it to better fit in with how he/she, perceives things.

  1. Symbolic Function Substage: This occurs between the age of 2-7 years of age. At 2-4 years, children at this stage can think and express through symbols, drawings, images and words. Egocentrism (the inability to see any other perspective but your own) and animism (the belief the an inanimate object such as a table is capable of thought and actions).
  2. Intuitive Thought Substage: Between the age of 4 - 7. The "Questions and Answers" Stage. Primitive reasoning begins. Children begin to ask many questions due to the realization that they have a great amount of knowledge but are unaware how. Conservation (the awareness that altering the state of a substance, does not change it's properties) and Centration (the focusing all concentration on one characteristic) are developed.

An example of Conservation

3. Concrete Operational Stage: This stage takes place in the later years of childhood, up until just before adolescence. One of the most important developments in this stage, is in the child's ability to think abstractly, about how things work. The child can now understand how things work, without the need to actually perform the action themselves, and can understand the concept of "reversibility". For example, if a child knows that 10+10=20, then the child should also automatically know that the reverse, 20-10=10 is also true, without the need to actually work it out.
There are 7 substages during this stage;
  1. Seriation,
  2. Transitivity,
  3. Classification,
  4. Decentering,
  5. Reversibility,
  6. Conservation and
  7. Elimination of Egocentrism.

4. Formal Operational Stage: The final stage takes place during adolescence, right up until adulthood. At this point, concrete objects are not essential for understanding the world. At this point, the person has the ability to think in hypothetical terms, and can use logic and reason to deduce things, based on how they understand the world, to solve problems and figure things out, even if they have no experience dealing with the exact problem, with which they are currently dealing.

These stages can be seen demonstrated in the video below.