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Jean Piaget


Theory: Cognitive Development Stages
Area of Study: Developmental Psychology

    Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland on August 9th 1896 and died on September 18th 1980.  He was a developmental psychologist who developed the theory of cognitive development.


He developed the four stages in cognitive development.
    Sensori-motor  
(Birth-2 yrs) 
Differentiates self from objects 

Recognises self as agent of action and begins to act intentionally: e.g. pulls a string to set mobile in motion or shakes a rattle to make a noise 

Achieves object permanence: realises that things continue to exist even when no longer present to the sense (pace Bishop Berkeley) 

Pre-operational  
(2-7 years) Learns to use language and to represent objects by images and words 

Thinking is still egocentric: has difficulty taking the viewpoint of others 

Classifies objects by a single feature: e.g. groups together all the red blocks regardless of shape or all the square blocks regardless of colour 

Concrete operational  
(7-11 years) Can think logically about objects and events 

Achieves conservation of number (age 6), mass (age 7), and weight (age 9) 

Classifies objects according to several features and can order them in series along a single dimension such as size. 

Formal operational  
(11 years and up) Can think logically about abstract 
propositions and test hypotheses systemtically 

Becomes concerned with the hypothetical, the future, and ideological problems 


    Piaget believed that children cannot undertake certain developmental tasks until they are psychologically mature enough to do so.  He proposed that a child's development does not go smoothly, rather, there are certain points which it takes off and moves into completely new areas and capabilities.