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Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development Jean Piaget a Swiss psychologist who began his research in the 1920s and continued through the 1970s had an enormous impact on the field of cognitive development Piagets theory of development was based on his observations of young children Although Piagets writings were complex his conclusions about the nature of development can be summarized in two parts A set of fixed stages and a pair of processes that led the child from one stage to the next The first stage is the sensorimotor stage The sensorimotor stage lasts from birth until about two years of age During this stage the child thinks about the world solely by interacting with it The bundle of reflexes and needs with which the child is born drive it to interact with the world in particular ways and for particular purposes but the child has little or no independent representations of the world The child performs what Piaget called circular reactions These are actions that produce pleasing consequences on the infants own body or on aspects of the environment These circular reactions form the basis of the childs later concepts of the world Eventually the child no longer acts to produce a consequence but simply imagines it instead The child begins to experiment actively with the world trying out various reactions to stimuli in exploring ways By the end of the sensorimotor period the child has a set of basic concepts about time space objects and the basic building blocks of reality The second stage is the preoperational stage The preoperational stage lasts roughly from age two to age seven During this stage the child acquires a number of abilities that were absent during the sensorimotor stage Language is of course one of them Another important advance is the recognition of object permanence the fact that objects continue to exist even when they are out of sight This is one of the most
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