Show Menu

Piagets theory of cognitive development Cheat Sheet by

Psychology a level


Jean piagets theory of cognitive develo­pment changed the thinking of how children’s thought process develops. As children grow their thought process change as a result of matura­tio­n(a­geing) and the enviro­nment. The mechanisms of cognitive develo­pment allow this to happen; schemas, assimi­lation, accomm­odation and equili­bra­tion.

Mechanisms of cognitive develo­pment

Sche­ma: A mental structure of related facts that are based on previous experi­ences. A schema is used as a mental shortcut to quickly generate future expect­ations. Some schemes such as grasping and sucking are innate. They develop through intera­ction with enviro­nments.
Assi­mil­ati­on: The process of fitting a new experience into a pre existing schema.
Acco­mod­ati­on: Having to adjust a pre existing schema because new inform­ation does not fit. Accomm­odation is the conseq­uence of disequ­ili­brium.
Equi­lib­rat­ion: The driving force behind accomm­odation and develo­pment. If something can’t be assimi­lated then a sense of disequ­lib­ration (unbal­ance) is formed and the individual must accomm­odate for equili­brium to reoccur.


Face schemas are innate as shown by research by Fantz­(1961) and Goren et al(1975)
Equili­bration is hard to demons­trate Inhelder et al(1974). Bryant­(1955)
It has real world education applic­ation Benne­tt(­1976)
Language: Vygotsky vs Piaget- support for Piaget from Sincl­air­-de­-Zw­art­(1969)
The most compre­hensive theory of children’s cognitive develo­pment

Intell­ectual develo­pment

Piaget stated that through maturation the brain developed along with experi­ences. Enabling children to become capable of further levels of thinking through each stage of develo­pment.

Stages of develo­pment

Stage 1: Sensor­imotor stage (0-2y)
Key develo­pment: Object permen­ance
Stage 2: Pre-op­era­tional stage (2-7y)
Children are egoc­ent­ric and lack conser­vation skills
Stage 3: Concrete operat­ional stage (7-11y)
Key develo­pment: Class inclusion and Logical reason­ing
Stage 4: Formal operat­ional stage (11+y)
Key develo­pment: Abstract thinking

Class inclusion

Relati­onship between members where they are in two different classes but they still come under one master class.
E.g: ANIMAL- dog/cat.
Pre operat­ional children cannot understand catego­ris­ation into sublevels.


Piagets method­ology was flawed Mcgar­rigle and Donald­son­(1974) naughty teddy. And Hughes­(1975) naughty doll
There is cultural bias, not universal
Altern­ative views- Vygotsky
Biolog­ically driven stages is correct Dasen­(1994)
Has important educat­ional applic­ation Plowden report­(1967)

Jean Piaget (1896-­1980)


Help Us Go Positive!

We offset our carbon usage with Ecologi. Click the link below to help us!

We offset our carbon footprint via Ecologi


No comments yet. Add yours below!

Add a Comment

Your Comment

Please enter your name.

    Please enter your email address

      Please enter your Comment.

          Related Cheat Sheets

          Writing essays in French Cheat Sheet
          A-Level Physics Key Terms Cheat Sheet
          Memory Cheat Sheet