The concrete operational stage next comes the

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The Concrete Operational Stage Next comes the concrete operational stage , the level of human devel- opment at which individuals first see causal connections in their sur- roundings. Between the ages of seven and eleven, children focus on how and why things happen. In addition, children now attach more than one symbol to a particular event or object. If, for example, you say to a child of five, “Today is Wednesday,” she might respond, “No, it’s my birthday!”—indicating that she can use just one symbol at a time. But a ten-year-old at the concrete operational stage would be able to respond, “Yes, and it’s also my birthday.” The Formal Operational Stage The last stage in Piaget’s model is the formal operational stage , the level of human development at which individuals think abstractly and Socialization CHAPTER 5 105 preoperational stage Piaget’s term for the level of human development at which individuals first use language and other symbols formal operational stage Piaget’s term for the level of human development at which individuals think abstractly and critically sensorimotor stage Piaget’s term for the level of human development at which individuals experience the world only through their senses Piaget’s Stages of Development concrete operational stage Piaget’s term for the level of human development at which individuals first see causal connections in their surroundings ego Freud’s term for a person’s conscious efforts to balance innate pleasure-seeking drives with the demands of society superego Freud’s term for the cultural values and norms internalized by an individual id Freud’s term for the human being’s basic drives Freud’s Model of Personality
critically. At about age twelve, young people begin to reason abstractly rather than thinking only of concrete situations. If, for example, you were to ask a seven-year-old, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” you might receive a concrete response such as “a teacher.” But most teenagers can think more abstractly and might reply, “I would like a job that helps others.” As they gain the capacity for abstract thought, young people also learn to understand metaphors. Hearing the phrase “A penny for your thoughts” might lead a child to ask for a coin, but a teenager will recognize a gentle invitation to intimacy. Evaluate Freud saw human beings torn by opposing forces of biology and culture. Piaget saw the mind as active and creative. He saw an ability to engage the world unfolding in stages as the result of both biological maturation and social experience. But do people in all societies pass through all four of Piaget’s stages? Living in a traditional society that changes slowly probably limits a person’s capacity for abstract and critical thought. Even in the United States, perhaps 30 percent of people never reach the formal operational stage (Kohlberg & Gilligan, 1971).

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