Just last day, I conducted an experiment in Psychology to validate Jean Piaget’s Theory on Cognitive Development in Childhood.
Jean Piaget is a famous Swiss developmental psychologist who changed the way we think about children’s minds. Early psychologists view the cognitive development of children through the lens of behaviorism, which emphasizes that children merely receive information from the environment, or through the lens of the IQ testing approach, which emphasizes individual differences in children’s
intelligence. This Swiss psychologist believed that children actively construct their cognitive world as they go through a series of stages.
The experiment I conducted, which aimed to affirm or reject Piaget’s Theory, is a well-known test of whether a child can think “operationally” during his developmental stage. What I did was to secure a subject, a child of age five (the subject must be between three to five years of age) who went through the experiment. I presented the subject with two identical beakers, A and B, filled
with liquid to the same height. Next to them was the third beaker, C. Beaker C was tall and thin, whereas beakers A and B were short and wide. The liquid was poured from B into C, and the child was asked whether the amounts in A and C were the same.
During the experiment, I was amazed on the result proper with Jean Piaget’s Theory on Cognitive Development. Piaget’s true when he stressed that by this stage of childhood, the most probable outcome is that the subject usually affirms the same amount of volume for Containers A and B. When the experimenter transferred the liquid of container B to C, when the subject was asked on which container contains the higher amount of volume, it’s usually container C had it. The five-year-old child invariably said that the amount of liquid in the tall, thin beaker (C) was greater than that in the short, wide beaker (A). No matter how frequent I transferred the liquid between the two beakers, still, the child stuck on his answer.
The subject, being a preoperational thinker ( that is, the subject is in the second Piagetian stage of cognitive development in which thought becomes more symbolic, egocentric, and intuitive rather than logical; but the child cannot yet perform operations), cannot mentally reverse the pouring action; that is, the child cannot imagine the liquid going back from container C to container B.
According to Piaget, such a child has not grasped the concept of conservation, a belief in the permanence of certain attributes of objects or situations in spite of superficial changes (Santrock, 130).
Try testing it in an 8-year-old child and the child will consistently say that the amounts were the same, whichever beaker you will pour the liquid. This is because the child already passed the preoperational stage, and is now on his concrete operational stage.
You may try the experiment anytime you want and prove or disprove this by yourself. After all, this is still a theory; we may accept it or reject it.