Developmental Psychology provides student readers with essential help in all aspects of their first course in developmental psychology, including advice on revising exams, preparing and writing course assessment materials, and enhancing and progressing their knowledge and skills in line with course requirements on a developmental psychology course.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development

Core Areas

  • Accommodation
  • Animistic thinking
  • Assimilation
  • Centration
  • Compensation
  • Concrete operation
  • Conservation
  • Class inclusion tasks
  • Classification
  • Disequilibrium
  • Egocentrism
  • Enactive stage
  • Equilibrium
  • Formal operation
  • General symbolic function
  • Iconic stage
  • Information processing approach
  • Internalisation
  • Intuitive stage
  • Object permanence
  • Operations
  • Pre-conceptual stage
  • Pre-operational stage
  • Primary circular reactions
  • Reversibility
  • Scaffolding
  • Schemata
  • Secondary circular reactions
  • Sensorimotor stage
  • Seriation
  • Symbolic mode
  • Syncretic reasoning
  • Theory of mind
  • Transductive reasoning
  • Zone of proximal development

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section you should be able to:

  • define the key terms outlined above and understand in which cognitive theory they belong;
  • acknowledge and describe each of the theories on cognitive development including those of Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky, theory of mind and the information processing approach;
  • evaluate the theories using research studies such as the Swiss mountain experiment and false belief tasks, for example;
  • discuss the weaknesses of the theories and how they can be compared and contrasted.

Running Themes

  • Cognitive developmental viewpoint
  • Ecological validity
  • Ethics
  • Informational processing approach
  • Nature
  • Nurture
  • Stage theory of development
  • Transformational change


Cognitive development refers to the ...

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