Jean Piaget, Introduction to the Four Stages of Development

Piaget is a renowned name in developmental psychology and his work is key for anyone studying psychology or child development etc. Gaining his PhD in natural sciences at the age of 22, Piaget has gone on to produce some key works in his field including The Moral Judgement of the Child, The Psychology of Intelligence, The Origins of Intelligence in Children and The Psychology of the Child. His work is recognised worldwide and he has been awarded with numerous prizes for it. Piaget had three children with his wife and these children became the subjects of many of his studies and observations of cognitive development.

Running through Piaget’s work is the notion that children’s cognitive processes are undoubtedly different from those of an adult and he states that children go through four stages of development. These stages, as Piaget proposes, occur naturally and independently and they are as follows:

1. Sensorimotor
This stage is where Piaget proposes babies learn about their surroundings, environment and the world around them by using touch and their other senses.

2. Pre-operational
This is the stage where logic begins to come in and children will start to arrange objects etc. logically.

3. Concrete operational
Children then progress through to the third stage and which is where they begin to realise that quantities and amounts can take different forms.

4. Formal operational
The developments which occur at the formal operational stage include the ability to reason verbally and manipulate ideas in their heads.

Piaget doesn’t claim that particular stages are reached at particular ages however all children do pass through these stages and they do so in the same order without one being missed out. Piaget also claims that these four developmental stages are universal and so all children in all cultures will go through the same process.


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