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Piaget's Stages

An Overview of Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggests that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses not only on understanding how children acquire knowledge, but also on understanding the nature of intelligence.

Stage Age Characteristics Developmental Changes
Sensorimotor Stage
Birth to 2 Years The infant knows the world through their movements and sensations.

Infants learn that things continue to exist even though they cannot be seen (object permanence).

They are separate beings from the people and objects around them.

They realize that their actions can cause things to happen in the world around them.

Learning occurs through assimilation and accommodation.

Preoperational Stage
2 to 7 Years Children begin to think symbolically and learn to use words and pictures to represent objects. They also tend to be very egocentric, and see things only from their point of view.

Children at this stage tend to be egocentric and struggle to see things from the perspective of others.

While they are getting better with language and thinking, they still tend to think about things in very conrete terms.

Concrete Operational Stage
7 to 11 Years During this stage, children begin to thinking logically about concrete events.

They begin to understand the concept of conservation; the the amount of liquid in a short, wide cup is equal to that in a tall, skinny glass.

Thinking becomes more logical and organized, but still very concrete.

Begin using inductive logic, or reasoning from specific information to a general principle.

Formal Operational Stage
12 and Up At this stage, the adolescent or young adult begins to think abstractly and reason about hypothetical problems.

Abstract thought emerges.

Teens begin to think more about moral, philosophical, ethical, social, and political issues that require theoretical and abstract reasoning.

Begin to use deductive logic, or reasoning from a general principle to specific information.

Learn More About Piaget's Stages

Key Concepts in Piaget's Theory
Support and Criticism of the Theory
Quiz on Cognitive Development Stages

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