Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

What did Piaget mean by the pre-operational stage?

The pre-operational stage takes place between the ages of two and seven. In this phase, the child has learned to symbolize. That is, the child can think about an event when it is not immediately happening. The child can represent the event mentally and is no longer dependent on immediate physical contact for knowledge of the world. This is an enormous step forward and frees the child’s intelligence from the constraints of time and space. Nonetheless, the child’s comprehension of space and time is still very immature. As we can imagine, the way a three-year-old understands the rules of nature is very different from that of an adult.


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