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Stage theories characterize human development as a series of distinct phases during which skills and abilities appear abruptly at the beginning of a stage and are maintained steadily until the start of the next stage. Children in a particular stage of development are seen as behaving and thinking qualitatively differently from the way they function in other stages, primarily because of major attainments or reorganizations that have taken place. The elements that characterize a particular stage are presumed to permeate many aspects of functioning within that stage. In many stage theories, stages are tied to specific ages, advances are built on the foundations laid within earlier stages, and there is a steady and universal progression toward higher levels of functioning. Implied in many stage theories ...

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