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Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget was a French Swiss developmental psychologist who is most well known for organizing cogntive development into a series of stages.

For example, he outlines four stages of cognitive development:

  1. Sensorimotor
  2. Preoperational
  3. Concrete Operational
  4. Formal Operational

These four stages have the following characteristics:

  1. invariant sequence
  2. universal (not culturally specific)
  3. related to cognitive development. but...
  4. generalizable to other functions
  5. stages are logically organized wholes
  6. hierarchical nature of stage sequences (each successive stage incorporates elements of previous stages, but is more differentiated and integrated)
  7. stages represent qualitative differences inmodes of thinking, not merely quantitative differences

Piaget's theory supposes that people develop schemas (conceptual models) by either assimilating or accommodating new information. These concepts can be explained as fitting information in to existing schemas, and altering existing schemas in order to accommodate new information, respectively.

Although some of Piaget's ideas are similar to those of Lev Vygotsky, Piaget was apparently unaware of Vygotsky's work.

Piaget's theories of psychological development have proved influential. Among others, the philosopher and social theorist[?] Jurgen Habermas has incorporated them into his work, most notably in The Theory of Communicative Action[?].


see also, Lawrence Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development.



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