Formal Operational Stage of Development
The formal operational stage is the last of the stages of development, and it is characterized by increases in cognition and understanding. What happens during the formal operational stage?
During the formal operational stage, children begin abstract thinking, which is the ability to think about things in more complex ways rather than simply at face value. Children begin to think more logically about situations, and they are able to reason logically about situations. For example, a child in the concrete operational stage (the previous stage) would not necessarily understand the idea of love, since it is not something that can be seen. However, in the formal operational stage, a child understands love as an emotion that is felt even if it can not be seen or touched. Abstract Thought:
While children tend to think very concretely and specifically in earlier stages, the ability to think about abstract concepts emerges during the formal operational stage. Instead of relying solely on previous experiences, children begin to consider possible outcomes and consequences of actions. This type of thinking is important in long-term planning.
In earlier stages, children used trial-and-error to solve problems. During the formal operational stage, the ability to systematically solve a problem in a logical and methodical way emerges. Children at the formal operational stage of cognitive development are often able to quickly plan an organized approach to An example of the distinction between concrete and formal operational stages is the answer to the question “If Kelly is taller than Ali and Ali is taller than Jo, who is tallest?” This is an example of inferential reasoning, which is the ability to think about things which the child has not actually experienced and to draw conclusions from its thinking. The child who needs to draw a picture or use objects is still in the concrete operational stage, whereas...
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