Jean Piaget

Four stage theory of cognitive development: 1. sensorimotor, 2. preoperational, 3. concrete operational, and 4. formal operational. He said that the two basic processes work in tandem to achieve cognitive growth-assimilation and accomodation

Sensorimotor stage

(from birth to about 2 years of age) during which infants know the world mostly with concept of object permanence, impressions and motor activities

Preoperational stage

(from about 2 to 6 or 7 years of age) during which a child learns to use symbolic play and language but does not yet comprehend the mental operations, think abstractly or see another's perspective

Concrete operational stage

(from about 6 or 7 to 11 years of age) during which children gain the mental operations that enable them to think logically, make inferences, view things from more than one perspective and make classifications

Formal operational stage

(normally beginning about age 12) during which people begin to think logically about abstract concepts, transfer knowledge and mentally process information

Lev Vygotsky

most famous for social development theory (of child cognitive development)

Idea that the potential for cognitive development depends upon the "zone of proximal development" (ZPD): a level of development attained when children engage in social behavior. Children learn through play/social interaction.

Lev Vygotsky's Theory

More Knowledgeable Other

According to Vygotsky, we turn to this as we learn tasks and skills. This may be a teacher, parent, or other adult. However, peers including other children may also serve as this

Zone of Proximal Development

In Vygotsky's theory, this is the range between children's present level of knowledge and their potential knowledge state if they recieve proper guidance and instruction

Lawrence Kohlberg

Famous for his theory of moral development in children; made use of moral dilemmas in assessment

Preconventional Morality

first level of Kohlberg's stages of moral development in which the child's behavior is governed by the consequences of the behavior

Conventional Morality

second level of Kohlberg's stages of moral development in which the child's behavior is governed by conforming to the society's norms of behavior

Post Conventional Morality

Kohlberg's highest stage of morality- occurs late in life and is a personal morality, developed by the adult and which supersedes society's rules, laws, and restrictions

Kohlberg's Stage Theory

This is seen in the classroom with student participation in creating social contracts for a good classroom society

Bandura's Social Learning Theory

Emphasizing learning through observation, vicarious learning and modeling

According to Bandura, behavioral changes occur when?

Through attention, retention, reproduction of behavior and motivation to repeat behavior

Abraham Maslow

Humanistic psychologist known for his "Hierarchy of Needs" and the concept of "self-actualization

B.F. Skinner

Behaviorist that developed the theory of operant conditioning; people learn by responding to the environment rather than in response to stimuli

Erik Erikson

8 psychosocial stages of development: theory shows how people evolve through the life span. Each stage is marked by a psychological crisis that involves confronting "Who am I?

Maslow's lowest level

Most basic needs

The top level of Maslow's hierarchy; morality, creativity, lack of prejudice, problem solving


The fourth level of Maslow's hierarchy

Self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of self and others

Maslow's physiological needs

Sleep, water, air, food

Second level of Maslow's hierarchy

Needs for safety and security: steady employment, health insurance, safe neighborhoods, and shelter

Third stage of Maslow's hierarchy

Social needs or love and belonging

Trust vs. Mistrust

If needs are dependably met, infants develop a sense of basic trust

Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Erikson's stage in which a toddler learns to exercise will and to do things independently such as toileting, feeding and dressing

Initiative vs. Guilt

Erikson's third stage in which preschoolers find independence in planning, playing and other activities

Industry vs. Inferiority

Erikson's stage between 5 and 12 years, when the child learns intellectual skills, competence and achievement

Identity vs. role confusion

Erikson's stage during which adolescents search for and become their true selves, where they are going in life

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Erikson's stage in which individuals form deeply personal relationships, hold commitments, marry, begin families

Generativity vs. Stagnation

Erikson's stage of social development in which middle-aged people care for others and gain a sense of contribution to later generations and to fulfilling one's potential and doing public service

Integrity vs. Despair

Erikson's final stage in which those near the end of life look back and evaluate their lives, see broad truths and advise those earlier in life


Freud's term for our inborn basic drives, operates on pleasure principle and demands immediate gratification


Freud's term for a person's conscious efforts to balance innate pleasure-seeking drives with the demands of society; understands reality and logic


Freud's term for the conscience; the internalized norms and values of our social groups, moralistic and judgmental part of personality


psychoanalytic defense mechanism by which people disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing them to others


Shift an unacceptable impulse toward more acceptable object or person


Displaces anxiety provoking explanations with more comforting justifications


A program that encourages young children to learn independently through exploration in multi age groupings

Sensitive periods

According to Montessori, when a child's mind is particularly open to learning specific skills or knowledge


Believed that development was due primarily to maturation, belief that a child has to interact with nature in order to fully develop and reach its potential.

Operant conditioning

According to Skinner, includes positive and negative reinforcement, punishment and extinction


According to Skinner, does not teach appropriate behaviors, and may result in undesirable behaviors such as aggression and negative emotions such as anxiety and fear


Interpreting our new experiences in terms of our existing schemas


According to Piaget, a concept or framework that organizes and interprets information


According to Piaget, adapting or changing our current understandings (schemas) to incorporate new information

Object Permanence

According to Piaget, awareness that things continue to exist even
when they cannot be sensed and occurs as babies gain experience with objects, as their memory abilities improve after 6 months


in Piaget's theory, the tendency of a young child to focus only on one feature of an object while ignoring other relevant features


in Piaget's theory, the pre-operational child's difficulty taking another's point of view


In Piaget's theory, the principle that properties such as mass, volume, and number remain the same despite changes in the forms of objects