The Preoperational Stage: 2 to 7 years The preconceptual period The intuitive period
Starter • What is the first stage of Piaget’s theory • How many subsections is it divided into? • What happens in this Stage? • What test was used to prove this stage? • What criticisms can be made of Piaget’s research?
What happens at this stage? • Children show clear evidence of thinking, but thought is typically not logical. The name of this stage refers to the fact that during this stage a child is not yet able to perform mental operations. • Piaget divided this stage into 2 periods. • The preconceptual period: 2-4 years • The intuitive period: 4-7 years
The preconceptual period • Children begin to make more use of symbols (words and images). For example a child can pretend a row of wooden blocks is train carriages. • Children show several characteristic errors in thought: Egocentrism, Animism, Centration.
Egocentrism • Refers to the child’s inability to see a situation from another person’s point of view. • The child assumes everybody sees what they see, egocentrism doesn’t refer to selfishness in children. Children in this period are simply unable to see any point of view that is not their own. • Piaget and Inhelder (1956) devised a test to investigate this characteristic error.
Aim: Piaget and Inhelder (1956) wanted to find out at what age children decentre. • Method: They devised the ‘3 mountains test’. This was a board on which were placed 3 different mountain shapes. The mountains were different, with snow on the top of one, a hut on another and a red cross on the other. The child was allowed to walk round the model, to look at it, then sit down at one side. A doll was seated at another side. The child was given 10 pictures representing the scene from different angles, and asked to pick the card that showed the scene as the doll would see it. Piaget assumed that if the child picked correctly then s/he was not egocentric. The egocentric child would pick the picture they were seeing.
Results: 4 year olds always chose the view that they could see from their own position. 6 year olds chose a different perspective but not always the correct one. 7 and 8 year olds chose the correct image consistently. • Conclusion: Children remain egocentric throughout most of the preoperational stage.
Plenary • What criticisms can be thrown at the 3 mountains test? • What improvements would you suggest could be made?