Piaget Jean


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Piaget Jean

(1896-1980) Genevan developmental psychologist, particularly significant for his stage theory of cognitive development.

Piaget's background was in zoology, and he retained a strong biological orientation, emphasizing the innate specification for development through a serial process of learning, each stage being the necessary foundation for the next (e.g. The Origins of Intelligence in Children, 1936, trans. 1952). This was not to deny the importance of the environment which he saw as an essential aspect of this process, though later theorists, such as Jerome Bruner, have tended to give environmental experience more weight than did Piaget. The four developmental stages were termed the sensorimotor, the pre- operational, the concrete operational and the formal operational. Through the processes of ASSIMILATION AND ACCOMMODATION, the child gradually develops from sensing and responding at birth, to the capacity for abstract, hypothetico-deductive thought in the early teens. Piaget has been criticized for the rigidity of the stage theory and aspects of his methodology His work was undoubtedly pioneering, stimulating much research which has supported the main tenets, but also indicated that the boundaries between stages should be regarded as ‘fuzzy’, and has also shown that the way in which children are assessed affects their responses, and therefore their stage categorization. See also EGOCENTRISM.