The Contribution Of Jean Piaget To Cognitive Development

2740 words - 11 pages

Cognitive development is an intellectual growth from infancy to adulthood. Jean Piaget (1896-1980), a Swiss psychologist, was one of the most important and influential researchers in the field of developmental psychology throughout the 20th century. Piaget was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, on August 9, 1896. His father, Arthur Piaget, was a professor of medieval literature with an interest in local history. His mother, Rebecca Jackson, was intelligent and energetic. The oldest child, he was very independent and took an early interest in nature. He published his first paper when he was ten - a one page account of his sighting of an albino sparrow.Piaget was the first to develop ...view middle of the document...

Individual use these schemes to symbolize the world and allocate action. This alteration is initiated by a biological drive to acquire balance between schemes and the environment. Piaget theorized that infants are born with schemes functioning at birth, for example infants are born with a sucking reflex and grasping reflexes. These are used as survival mechanisms. In other animals, these reflexes manipulate behavior throughout life. However, in human beings as the infant uses these reflexes to adapt to the environment, these reflexes are swiftly exchanged for constructed schemes. Piaget illustrated two methods used by humans to adapt to their environment. These two processes are known as assimilation and accommodation. Theses procedures are both used during the course of a person's life. The person increasingly becomes accustomed to the environment in a more intricate way.Assimilation is the process of using or transforming some event or experience and placing it in preexisting cognitive structures i.e. making it part of a schema. Assimilation is an active process. Humans selectively assimilate information into schemas, paying attention to aspects of experiences for which there are existing experiences. Accommodation is the process of changing cognitive structures in order to accept something from the environment. For example, if a new experience does not fit the existing schema, the child modifies the schema and extends his or her theory of the world (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). Both processes are used simultaneously and alternately throughout life. As schemes become increasingly more complex (i.e., responsible for more complex behaviors) they are termed structures. As one's structures become more complex, they are organized in a hierarchical manner (i.e., from general to specific). Assimilation and accommodation work like pendulum swings at advancing our understanding of the world and our competency in it. According to Piaget, they are directed at a balance between the structure of the mind and the environment, at a certain congruency between the two, that would indicate that you have a good (or at least good-enough) model of the universe. This ideal state he calls equilibrium.Piaget discovered that children's abilities to think and reason follow a distinct series of stages. He divided cognitive development into four stages, each of which has a number of sub stages. The major stages are the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. The sensorimotor stage is designated to the first two years of life, "a period in which infants are busy discovering the relationships between their actions and the consequences of those actions" (Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, Bem & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2000).According to Piaget, the child's mental life during the first few months consists of nothing but a series of temporary, detached sensory impressions and motor reactions. From birth to one month...

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