CHARACTERISTICS • 2-7 years old • Stage begins with establishing object permanence • Ends with emergence of concrete operations
LACK OF CONSERVATION • Lack of realization that objects can remain the same even after a change in appearance • Exists due to centration (tendency to focus on only one aspect of an object/situation at a time) • Piaget demonstrated this with two glasses of water • Child was shown two glasses containing the same amount of water • Water from one glass was then poured into a thinner, taller glass • The child would argue that the taller glass had more water in it
PIAGET AND INHELDER (1956) AIM: • To find out the age at which children 'decenter' (i.e. are no longer egocentric)
METHOD: • The child was sat at a table with a model of three mountains in front of them. Each mountain was different (one with snow on top, one with a hut on top and one with a red cross on top). • The child was allowed to walk around the table and observe the model from different view points before returning to their seat. • A doll/teddy was then placed on the table. • The child was then shown 10 photographs of the mountains taken from different viewpoints, and was asked to identify which photograph showed the doll/teddy's view. (It was assumed that if the child correctly chose the picture showing the doll/teddy's view, they were not egocentric. However, if they chose the card showing their own view, they were still egocentric.)
FINDINGS: • 4 year olds almost always chose the picture that matched their own view and showed no awareness that the doll/teddy's view may differ from theirs. • 6 year olds showed some degree of awareness of an alternate perspective and often chose a picture different to their own, however it was rarely the correct picture (i.e. did not show the doll/teddy's view). • Only 7/8 year olds consistently selected the correct picture. • Piaget and Inhelder concluded that at age 7, children are able to see more than their own point of view and are no longer egocentric.