Jean Piaget developed a leading and extensive theory on cognitive development. Piaget believed that babies are born with schemas which organize perceptual input and connect it to the appropriate responses. The process of assimilation allows the infants to use existing schemas to take in new stimuli and respond accordingly. In contrast, the process of accommodation results in schemas changing as necessary to cope with a broader range of situations. According to Piaget, assimilation and accommodation ultimately lead to cognitive development. Therefore, the child's thinking changes systematically over time as new schemas develop. For the most part, I agree with Piaget's theories. Piaget describes four major stages of cognitive development, including sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations. .
Piaget's Theory is correct in that the behaviors' shown in the stages of cognitive development tend to be true for most humans. Although, it is impossible to stereotype the behavior and general characteristics of all humans, Piaget was correct in generalizing for most of the population. .
The sensorimotor characteristics can be seen through my cousin, Jamie who will turn two years old in March. She is currently going through the stage where she cries when she sees anyone other than her family. Jamie is especially close to her grandma who raises her while Jamie's mom and dad are at work. However, when Jamie's grandma went on vacation for three weeks it seemed as though Jamie had completely forgotten about her beloved grandma. The child who preferred her grandma to even her mom, played happily and seemed to not notice that her grandma was gone. The concept of object permanence was clearly not understood by Jamie.
Within the next couple of years, Jamie will learn the concept of object permanence and continue to proceed into the preoperational period. Through baby-sitting I have found that children who are in this period do not understand conservation, which makes my job considerably easier.