- 2-7 years
- Split in 2 sections: Pre-conceptual stage (2-4 years) and Intuitive Period (4-7 years)
- Children can use symbols, such as words and images, and can recognise that one thing can stand for something else - (play in a cardboard box as a car)
- Cannot logically manipulate information - many errors of thinking eg. Animism, Centration, Egocentrism, Conservation
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- The belief that inaminate objects have feelings and intentions - eg. A child walking into a chair and saying, "Naughty chair!"
- However, does the child really believe the chair has feelings or are they just using the best of their limited powers of expression?
- In refute to Animism, Shields and Duveen (1982) showed that even 3 year olds could determine which of a farmer, cow, tractor and tree could eat, sleep, move about on its own, talk and be angry.
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- The ability to cope with only one aspect of a situation at a time eg. Asking a child to pick out the green, big toy bricks and them just picking out all the green or all the big bricks
- Piaget thought the ability to take account of more than one factor at a time is achieved around the age of 7
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- The inability to take another person's perspective - thinking that other people's experience of the world is exactly the same as their own eg. in a game of hide and seek, the child thinks if they can't see them they can't see you
- Piaget and Inhelder (1956) experiment "3 mountains" - showed that pre-operational children are egocentric and the ability to de-centre arises at 7.
- However, Donaldson (1978) argued that piaget seriously underestimated the cognitive ability of young children. She proposed that his findings were a result of the way in which he carried out his investigation.
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- The ability to understand that properties of objects and materials remain the same despite changes in outward appearance. According to Piaget, young children cannot conserve because their thinking is dominated by how things look on the outside.
- Piaget and Szeminska (1941) conservation of volume experiment - the child develops the ability to conserve around 7 and moves on from the pre-operational stage
- However, Rose and Blank thought that asking the same question twice in the experiment was confusing. It might have led children to assume that their first answer had been wrog, and so they gave a different response the second time.
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