Aug 23rd 2012

Psy 200

  • Born in 1896 in a French speaking Swiss city of Neuchatel
  • In 1910-1915 he was a member of a club called Des Amis de la Nature ( Club of the Friends of Nature)
  • Arguably the most influential psychologist
  • Studied Mollusk classification
  • Stated in his 1952 auto- biography that this book was a way of escaping his mentally unstable mother
  • Had an idea based on the equilibrium between parts of the mind. He believed that while most go toward equilibrium , disequilibrium can lead to such events as war.

A child’s “ Mentality”

  • In the early 1920’s Piaget combined the use of items from intelligence tests, new problem solving situations and open ended conversations with school- age children into what he called “Clinical Method”.
  • He wrote 5 books with this information to examine the development of child’s language, reasoning, conceptions of the world , theories of causality and moral judgment

Development steps

  • Children are at first “ egocentric’ meaning they cannot take another persons view point
  • They are attached to concrete appearances (those in which they can touch, or see with their own eyes, hands)
  • Gradually they move away from this and become capable of thinking abstractly and logically

3 Books

  • He wrote 3 books when he studied ( with the help of his wife and ex student) 3 children who where born in 1925,1927,and 1931, where he recorded his observations in three classes.
  • The book entitled The origins of Intelligence and the Construction of Reality described how basic forms of intellectually and the categories of objects , space and time evolve between the newborn’s reflex activities and language at 18 months.
  • His 2nd and 3rd book’s entitled Play, Dream and Imitation’s( originally titled La formation du symbol chez L'Enfant. Imitration, jeu et reve, image et representation), and The Origins of Intelligence, all studied those children up to the age of 6; focusing on the child’s adaptation ability.

4 Stages of Development

   1. Sensorimotor ( Birth – 2 years )

  •                 The child experiences the world through actions , they touch, look and grab
  • Children at this stage are creating new schema by observing and interacting with their environment

2. Pre – Operational (3-7yeas)

  •  Children now are accommodating their existing schemas by acquiring language, which allows them to represent the things they touched in the previous stage
  •  They are strengening their language skills, however have not yet developed logical reasoning
  • Images and words are connected , abstract thought not their yet
  • 3. Concrete Stage ( 8-11 years)
    • Able to think concretely about events that have taken place
    • Ability to understand cause and effect are evident
    • Can preform mathematical operations taught on visual aids

More likely to understand

4. Formal Operational Stage (12- Adult)

  • Capable of assimilating and accommodating knowledge into their  schemas , can think  abstractly and use this to   think abstract logic and reason
  • Note!! Each stage build on the last!

organized thought

  • Piaget believed that human beings develop psychologically by organizing stimuli into schemes or clusters of knowledge that are used to comprehend and decipher information
  • With this a child can organize the stimuli they are exposed to through 2 distinct processes.
  • 1. Assimilation
  • 2. Accommodation
  • Assimilation
  • Absorption of new information
  • When new information is present children will attempt to place this knowledge into existing schemas
  • Accommodation
  • Changing the existing schemas in order to better interoperate new information


  • All development emerges from action that is to say individuals construct and reconstruct their knowledge of the world as a result of interactions with the environment
  • Based on this Piaget studied the application of rules when children play

Morality Example

  • Ben ( a 10 yr. old child) who was studied by Piaget provided the following critique of a rule made up by a child playing marbles
  • “ It isn’t a rule! It’s a wrong rule because its outside of the rules. A fair rule  is one that is in the game.”
  • Ben believed in the absolute and intrinsic truth of the rules, characteristic of early moral reasoning.
  • In contrast Vua ( a 13 year old child) who was studied by Piaget illustrated an understanding of the reasoning behind the application of rules, characteristic of moral thinking
  • When asked to consider the fairness of a made- up rule compared to the traditional, Vua replied “ It is just as fair because the marbles are far apart”.       (making the game equally difficult).


  • Piaget also interviewed children regarding lying and stealing
  • Young children when asked what was a lie replied “Naughty words”. When asked why they should not lie they could rarely explain beyond “Because it is a naughty word”.
  • However when older children where asked that same question the responses where “Because it isn’t right” and “ It wasn’t true”.


2 parts to morality


  • Strict adherence to rule and duties to obedience to authority

Results from 2 factors:

  • Child’s cognitive Structure
  • Relative social relationships with adults

Outcome according to Piaget

  •  Rules should be made in fairness of the game.

Piaget’s Thought process

  • When working examining mollusks into species, Piaget was more interested in the behavior of the mollusks
  • Questions like how does a mollusk adapt to change was often asked by his boss. Piaget would then take this question and always  say “ Its is not the question of how does it adapt it is a question of what does the mollusk need to “ know” in order to change or adjust to habits and or stringer current changes?”