While conducting intelligence tests on children, Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget began to investigate how children think. According to Piaget, children’s thought processes change as they mature physically and interact with the world around them. Piaget believed children develop schema, or mental models, to represent the world. As children learn, they expand and modify their schema through the processes of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the broadening of an existing schema to include new information. Accommodation is the modification of a schema as new information is incorporated.
Criticism of the sensory motor Stage
While most develop mentalists accept Piaget's outline of cognitive growth in infants, there are questions about his measures of assessing their development. It is agreed that object permanence is developed as the child develops an understanding of the permanence of objects, and that uncovering a hidden toy is a demonstration of this, but it is felt that Piaget did not take into account the need for motivation in order for children to search, or the fact that very young infants may not have the knowledge of how to search. Kagan's theory of object permanence is that 9 month old infants show an ability to search for hidden objects because they have had a growth in memory capacity, rather than because they have a new cognitive structure as stated by Piaget (Kagan, cited in Berger,1988).
Other develop mentalists claim that Piaget's description of sensor motor intelligence overemphasizes the motor aspects of cognitive development to the detriment of the sensory aspects. Piaget believed children showed intellectual development through
their actions, but perception researchers believe that infants know more than they can physically demonstrate with limited motor actions. They have found that newborn infants try to look for sounds, grasp objects and respond to human faces, and believe that...