Strength And Weakness Of Piaget's Cognitive Development Theory

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Critically assess Piaget’s theoretical predictions about when children would and would not be able to have/do certain things (eg. Object Permanence, imitate facial expressions, take another’s perspective, pass a conservation task etc.

Cognitive development describes the growth of cognitive abilities and capacities from birth to old age (Colman, 2009). Jean Piaget’s four stages cognitive-developmental theory (Piaget, 1962) is widely regarded as the most detailed explanation of child development (Carlson et al., 2004). This essay will assess the strengths and weaknesses of Piaget’s theory and compare these to other cognitive development theories namely the theories developed by Lev Vygotsky and Mark Johnson in order to gain a better insight
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For example, Piaget stated that children in the pre-operational stage were not able to overcome their egocentrism and observe a situation from an alternate point of view. Piaget and Inhelder’s (1956) Three Mountains Experiment showed that children were only able to describe a mountain scene from their own viewpoint. However, it has recently been shown that children were able to take another person’s perspective if the task was explained more effectively. This highlights the fact that Piaget’s methods were too complicated for a child to understand. ADD …show more content…
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Despite his extensive research, Piaget never analysed the effect of social interaction within cognitive development. Tan-Niam et al. (1998) revealed that children produced better work when placed in a group. Vygotsky (1987) stated that culture also affects knowledge acquisition. Piaget and Vygotsky agreed that certain tasks were beyond the capability of children yet Vygotsky argued that these problems could be attempted with help or “scaffolding”. Neitzel and Stright (2003) showed that by partaking in “scaffolding”, parents were able to help their children achieve higher grades. This proves that development is not as simple as Piaget’s stage theory stated. It is infact a much more fluid process involving other members of society too.

Upon assessing the strengths and weaknesses of Piaget’s theory, it is evident that Piaget’s work has had a significant impact on the world of cognitive psychology (Halford, 1990). Despite the criticisms outweighing the support for his theory, it is certain that his work has enabled other psychologist’s find out more as to how a child

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