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Qualitative Differences in Adults Thinking QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCES IN ADULTS THINKING Jean Piaget a Swiss psychologist who developed a theory of cognitive development has had a huge impact on cognitive development studies Piaget suggested that children go through four separate stages of cognitive development in a fixed order that is universal in all children Kodat 2001 Piaget declared that these stages differ not only in the quantity of information acquired at each but also in the quality of knowledge and understanding at that stage Piaget suggested that movement from one stage to the next occurred when the child reached an appropriate age and was exposed to relevant types of experiences Without experience children were assumed incapable of reaching their highest cognitive ability Piagets four stages are known as the sensorimotor preoperational concrete operational and formal operational stages Kodat 2002 Piagets sensorimotor period is the first stage of development and is seen in infants The preoperational period is the next stage of development and includes the thinking and responses of young children The concrete operational period is the time that a child begins to be able to reason Formal operational thinking begins at ages eleven or twelve and continues into adulthood According to Piaget adolescents learn to think logically in abstract situations learn to test hypotheses systematically and become interested in the world of ideas Cavanaugh Blanchard Fields 2002 Thinking is no longer tied to events that can be observed A child at this stage can think hypothetically and use logic to solve problems Kodat 2001 Piaget describes formal operational thought as a way of conceiving abstract concepts and thinking about them in a very systematic step-by-step way Formal operational thought is governed by a generalized logical structure that provides solutions
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