Piagetian & Vygostkian Approaches
Cognition: Higher order mental processes by which humans understand and adapt to
o Problem solving
Developmental psychology seeks to understand how the form and function of cognition
changes across the life span
First to suggest that children see the world differently to adults.
First to develop methods to investigate this.
First to offer a systematic theoretical account of the process of mental growth.
Observation and Interview
Observed and recorded young children in their play. Questioned them to elicit how
they understood the world
o Piaget: What makes the wind?
o Julia: The trees.
o Piaget: How do you know?
o Julia: I saw them waving their arms.
o Piaget: How does that make the wind?
o Julia (waving her hand in front of his face): Like this. Only they are bigger. And
there are lots of trees.
o Piaget: What makes the wind on the ocean?
o Julia: It blows there from the land. No. It's the waves...
Theory Piaget was trained as a biologist and as a philosopher
o Piaget’s view of the intellectual development of the child reflected an interaction
between biology and experience
o Principles of knowledge:
Seek the organization by which the child understands the world
Identify the functional significance of knowledge (that is, knowledge
allows a child to adapt to the world)
Cognitive adaptation reflects the actions of two complementary processes:
o Assimilation allows an existing cognitive structure to adapt to the environment
o Accommodation allows the cognitive structure to change in order to handle a
new environmental situation
As children progress from infancy to adulthood they develop a better understanding of
the world—stages of development
Four Periods of Development
Sensorimotor period: Birth through age 2
o Infant schemes are simple reflexes and interactions with pe