CogniFit's Science blog: Cognition Through The Eyes Of Piaget

Cognition Through The Eyes Of Piaget

Over the last few centuries there have been absolute geniuses who have developed profound ideas on just about everything that we know today. It is because of their research, development and findings that society has become what it is.

One of these masterminds was Jean Piaget with his findings on cognition.

There have been countless studies conducted on cognitive development and the construction of human thought or mental processes. Cognition is an in-depth topic that goes far beyond the human mind, but it is one that draws a great deal of interest from scientists, sociologists and psychologists.

Jean Piaget certainly left his mark as one of the most important and influential people in the field of developmental psychology. His belief was that humans are unique because unlike animals, we have the ability to do “abstract symbolic reasoning.”

It was a combination of work done by a group of stellar individuals like Lev Vygotsky, Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson that we know what we do today about cognitive development. Given there has been an extensive amount of research and findings since, but it was the initial groundwork by this group that led to such great information on a complex topic.

There are a number of ways to look at cognition and developmental psychology. Piaget chose to tackle the topic from infancy to adulthood. He created a formula that consisted of four stages and described what individuals experience and go through during each stage.

The first stage of cognitive development according to Piaget is the Sensorimotor stage which occurs during infancy. He says this is when intelligence is present, motor activity is there and knowledge is developing. While knowledge is limited, this is the stage where it is based on experiences and interactions. Some language skills are developed at the end of the stage as well.

The second stage is the pre-operational stage. Toddlers and early childhood is present here as symbols and language skills really make way. Memory and imagination are fully developed while non-reversible and non-logical thinking is present. For the most part, egocentric thinking dominates this stage.

Elementary and early adolescence is where cognition goes for the concrete operational stage. Logical and systematic form of intelligence becomes present here according to Piaget. And so too does manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects, operational thinking and egocentric thinking.

The final stage is the formal operational stage. Adolescents and adults experience this with logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts forming. Egocentric thinking comes back early in this stage, but formal thinking remains uncommon.

Cognition is a complex subject matter that requires a great deal of research and studies to fully understand even the slightest bit. But for Piaget, it was a topic that was simple to understand when broken down into the various stages of life.