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Concrete Operational Stage of Cognitive Development


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Characteristics of Concrete Operations:


The concrete operational stage begins around age seven and continues until approximately age eleven. During this time, children gain a better understanding of mental operations. Children begin thinking logically about concrete events, but have difficulty understanding abstract or hypothetical concepts.




Piaget determined that children in the concrete operational stage were fairly good at the use of inductive logic. Inductive logic involves going from a specific experience to a general principle. On the other hand, children at this age have difficulty using deductive logic, which involves using a general principle to determine the outcome of a specific event.




One of the most important developments in this stage is an understanding of reversibility, or awareness that actions can be reversed. An example of this is being able to reverse the order of relationships between mental categories. For example, a child might be able to recognize that his or her dog is a Labrador, that a Labrador is a dog, and that a dog is an animal.


Observations About the Concrete Operational Stage:


  • "Compared with preoperational children, who can focus on only one dimension of a problem at a time, concrete-operational children can engage in decentration. That is, they can focus on multiple parts of a problem at once. Decentration has implications for conservation and other intellectual undertakings."
    (Rathus, 2008)

  • "The concrete operational period in Piaget's theory represents a transition between the preoperational and formal operational stages. Whereas the preoperational child does not yet possess the structures necessary to reverse operations, the concrete operational child's logic allows him or her to do such operations, but only on a concrete level. The child is now a sociocentric (as opposed to egocentric) being who is aware that others have their own perspectives on the world and that those perspectives are different from the child's own. The concrete operational child may not be aware, however, of the content of others' perspectives (this awareness comes during the next stage of cognitive development)."
    (Salkind, 2004)

More From This Series:




Piaget, J. (1977). Gruber, H.E.; Voneche, J.J. eds. The essential Piaget. New York: Basic Books.

Piaget, J. (1983). Piaget's theory. In P. Mussen (ed). Handbook of Child Psychology. 4th edition. Vol. 1. New York: Wiley.

Rathus, S. A. (2008). Children and adolescense: Voyages in Development Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Salkind, N. J. (2004). An introduction to theories of human development. Thousand oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Santrock, John W. (2008). A topical approach to life-span development (4 ed.). New York City: McGraw-Hill.


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