Jean Piaget

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Piaget, Jean

(zhäNpyä`jā), 1896–1980, Swiss psychologist, known for his research in developmental psychology. After receiving a degree in zoology from the Univ. of Neuchâtel (1918), Piaget's interests shifted to psychology. He studied under C. G. JungJung, Carl Gustav
, 1875–1961, Swiss psychiatrist, founder of analytical psychology. The son of a country pastor, he studied at Basel (1895–1900) and Zürich (M.D., 1902).
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 and Eugen BleulerBleuler, Eugen
, 1857–1939, Swiss psychiatrist. He taught (1898–1927) at the Univ. of Zürich, serving concurrently as director of Zürich's Burghölzi Asylum.
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 in Zürich, and then in Paris at the Sorbonne. There, he worked with Alfred BinetBinet, Alfred
, 1857–1911, French psychologist. From 1894 he was director of the psychology laboratory at the Sorbonne. He is known for his research and innovation in testing human intelligence.
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 in the administration of intelligence tests to children. In reviewing the tests, Piaget became interested in the types of mistakes children of various ages were likely to make. After returning to Switzerland in 1921, Piaget began to study intensively the reasoning processes of children at various ages. In 1929, he became professor of child psychology at the Univ. of Geneva, where he remained until his death, also serving as professor of psychology at the Univ. of Lausanne (1937–54). Piaget theorized that cognitive development proceeds in four genetically determined stages that always follow the same sequential order. Although best known for his groundbreaking work in developmental psychology, Piaget wrote on a number of other topics as well. Influenced by the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-StraussLévi-Strauss, Claude
, 1908–2009, French anthropologist, b. Brussels, Belgium, Ph.D Univ. of Paris, 1948. He carried out research in Brazil from 1935 to 1939.
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, Piaget's Structuralism (1970) focused on the applications of dialectics and structuralism in the behavioral sciences. He also attempted a synthesis of physics, biology, psychology, and epistemology, published as Biology and Knowledge (1971). A prolific writer, Piaget's writings also include The Child's Conception of the World (tr. 1929), The Moral Judgment of the Child (tr. 1932), The Language and Thought of the Child (tr. of 3d ed. 1962), Genetic Epistemology (tr. 1970), and The Development of Thought (tr. 1977).


See studies by H. Gardner (1973, repr. 1981), G. Butterworth (1982), S. Sugarman (1987), and M. Chapman (1988).

Piaget, Jean


Born Aug. 9, 1896 in Neuchâtel. Swiss psychologist, founder of genetic epistemology and of an operational concept of the intellect.

Piaget studied at the universities of Neuchâtel, Zürich, and Paris and was a professor at the universities of Neuchâtel (1926–29), Geneva (from 1929), and Lausanne (1937-54). In 1955 he founded the International Center of Genetic Epistemology in Paris. Since 1929 he has been the director of the J.-J. Rousseau Institute in Geneva.

In his early works (1921-25), Piaget regarded the analysis of children’s speech as the key to understanding children’s thought (The Language and Thought of the Child; Russian translation, 1932). He considered the processes of socialization to be leading factors in intellectual development. Later, Piaget asserted that the source of the formation and development of children’s thought lies in their activities with things. He believes that research on the systems of operation of the intellect, which are simultaneously logical, psychological, and social, is fundamental to the problem of the relationship between social activity and the psychological development of the individual.

According to the operational concept of the intellect (The Psychology of Intelligence, 1946), the mind functions and develops as the individual adapts to his environment. Adaptation involves the assimilation, by means of patterns of behavior, of certain material already present in the individual, and the accommodation of these patterns to specific situations. The highest form of equilibrium between subject and object is the formation of “operational structures.” According to Piaget, an operation consists of an “internal action” of the subject that is genetically derived from an external, objective action (internalization) and that is coordinated with other actions in a definite system.

Piaget distinguished and investigated four principal stages of intellectual development: the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the stage of concrete operations, and the stage of formal operations. On the basis of the operational concept he analyzed many other mental functions, including perception, emotions, and symbolic expression. His psychological and logical views are synthesized in the concept of genetic epistemology, which is based on the principle of the increasing invariability of a subject’s knowledge of an object, under the influence of change in the conditions of experience.

Piaget has made a significant contribution to the psychology of thought, child psychology, and the elaboration of the problems of the relationship between psychology and logic. The defects of his point of view (for example, overestimation of the role of logic in the psychological analysis of thought) have been criticized in Soviet psychology.


La Construction du réel chez l’enfant. Neuchâtel-Paris, 1937.
La Formation du symbole chez l’enfant. Neuchâtel-Paris, 1945.
Le Développement de la notion de temps chez l’enfant. Paris, 1946.
Introduction à l’épistémologie génétique, vols. 1-3. Paris, 1949-50.
Les Mécanismes perceptifs. Paris, 1961.
Etudes sociologiques. Geneva, 1965.
La Psychologie et pédagogie. [Paris, 1969.]
L’Epistémologie génétique. Paris, 1970.
In Russian translation:
Genezis elementarnykh logicheskikh struktur. Moscow, 1963. (With B. Inhelder.)
Izbrannye psikhologicheskie trudy. Moscow, 1969. (References.)
Eksperimental’ naia psikhologiia, fascs. 1–4. Moscow, 1966–73. (Edited with P. Fraisse.)


Sadovskii, V. N., and E. G. Iudin, “Zh. Piazhe—psikholog, logik, filosof.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1966, no. 4.
Flavell, J. H. Geneticheskaia psikhologiia Zh. Piazhe. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from English.)


References in periodicals archive ?
Il est, plus simplement, de montrer la facon dont les recherches psychologiques initiees par Jean Piaget interrogent le paradigme de facon puissante et originale.
Jean Piaget, por sua vez, encontra em suas observacoes uma estreita relacao entre a imitacao e a formacao dos simbolos.
There, she worked closely with Jean Piaget and, according to Piaget (Bringuier, 1980), Spielrein was the only person who ever psychoanalyzed him.
Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist, told us that one cannot love one's neighbour unless one can understand one's neighbour.
I came across the grove of Sophie Dostoevsky, infant daughter of the Russian novelist: of Jean Piaget, the great psychologist: a who's who of clear departed from Geneva's illustrious families, politicians and artists, distinguished foreign residents: even a slab commemorating the man who is arguably the city's all-time best-known resident.
Constructivism, one of the cognitive learning theories proposed by Jean Piaget, argues that knowledge is not transmitted from teachers to students, but constructed by students themselves when they interact with the environment (Bjorklund, 1995; Guzdial, 1997; Stager, 2001).
The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget found that if you show very young kids something tall and skinny, they think it holds more than something that's short and wide.
Another way to think about building trust has to do with raising the psychological level in a company from what the developmental psychologist Jean Piaget called authoritarian-egocentric to a cooperative reciprocal way of operating.
1896: Swiss child psychologist Jean Piaget was bornBorn in Neuchatel, Piaget studied at Neuchatel Latin high school where he wrote a notice on an albino sparrow.
Swiss biologist Jean Piaget wrote his doctoral thesis on the classification of mollusks.
was able to follow the teachings of Jean Piaget, a well-known learning theorist who believed that most people learn concrete concepts easier than abstract concepts.