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Cognition and Development – Piaget's Theories

4. Concrete and Formal Operations

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In this module, we think about the concrete and formal operational stages, focusing in particular on: (i) the stage of concrete operations (7-11 years), when a child can imagine alternative perspectives to their own but is unable to think in the abstract; (ii) the transition to the stage of formal operations (11+ years), when the child’s thinking transitions from concrete to abstract; (iii) Piaget’s pendulum task; (iv) how thinking is developed in the formal operational stage and can be linked to adolescent personality changes.


This course, by Dr Richard O’Connor (University of Hull), explored Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. In the first module, we think about the key concepts of Piaget’s theory and his proposed stages of cognitive development, before focusing on each stage in turn. In the second module, we think about the sensorimotor stage, from 0-2 years, focusing on object permanence. In the third module, we think about the pre-operational stage, from 2-7 years, focusing on conservation and egocentrism. Next, we think about the stages of concrete and formal operations. In the fifth and final module, we think about the influence Piaget’s theory of cognitive development has had and continues to have on research in the field of developmental psychology.


Dr Richard O’Connor is a cognitive developmental psychology in the Faculty of Health Sciences and School of Psychology and Social Work at the University of Hull. Dr O’Connor’s research interests include theory of mind and word learning. Some of Dr O’Connor’s recent publications include Autistic Adults Show Similar Performance and Sensitivity to Social Cues on a Visual Perspective Taking Task as Non-autistic Adults (In Press) and Stroop interference is a composite phenomenon: Evidence from distinct developmental trajectories of its components (2020).

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APA style

O'Connor, R. (2019, September 27). Cognition and Development – Piaget's Theories - Concrete and Formal Operations [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Connor, R. "Cognition and Development – Piaget's Theories – Concrete and Formal Operations." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Sep 2019,

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