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 ?
Jean Piaget, The Language and Thought of the Child, translated by Marjorie Gabain, 2nd ed.
Em toda a sua obra Jean Piaget sustenta a tese central de que existe uma correspondencia de funcoes e isomorfismos parciais de estruturas entre a biologia evolutiva e o desenvolvimento das funcoes cognitivas dos sujeitos.
La teoria del desarrollo cognitivo de Jean Piaget es reconocida por establecer de que manera los ninos construyen conocimiento, a partir de sus estructuras disponibles, y actuando sobre los objetos o fenomenos, lo cual les coloca como constructores activos del conocimiento.
Barbel Inhelder & Jean Piaget, The Early Growth of Logic in the Child: Classification and Seriation.
Atran presents his work as resolving a paradox which arises in light of the work of Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky; in fact, Atran arranged a debate between these men in 1975.
Incorporating the constructivist view of early learning put forth by esteemed researchers Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson and Lev Vygotsky, Tutor Time LifeSmart(TM) encourages children to be active participants in their early learning experiences.
Mooney (early childhood education, Granite State College) introduces early childhood education students and teachers to the foundational theories of John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky and how their theories impact teaching young children.
In describing "intelligence," Jean Piaget echoes this fundamental play between thinking, acting, and learning: "The essential functions of intelligence consist in understanding and in inventing, in other words in building up structures by structuring reality.
Como lo senalaron en su tiempo ilustres pedagogos, como el mismisimo Jean Piaget, la construccion de ideas complejas solamente es posible en el idioma con el que se ha crecido y se ha forjado nuestra estructura intelectual.
Constructivism is a particular kind of cognitive theory that is based on the work of the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget.
This paper focuses on similarities in the lives of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky to enlighten study of their pedagogies and to provide some information for current classroom techniques.
His reach certainly extended to Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, who in the 1930s asserted that because children fail to distinguish between their own minds and the world, they treat virtually any object as alive and conscious.