The Concrete Operational StageNext 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 onhow and why things happen. In addition, children now attach morethan one symbol to a particular event or object. If, for example, yousay 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 atime. But a ten-year-old at the concrete operational stage would beable to respond, “Yes, and it’s also my birthday.”The Formal Operational StageThe last stage in Piaget’s model is the formal operational stage,thelevel of human development at which individuals think abstractly andSocializationCHAPTER 5105preoperational stagePiaget’sterm for the level of humandevelopment at whichindividuals first use languageand other symbolsformal operational stagePiaget’s term for the level ofhuman development at whichindividuals think abstractly andcriticallysensorimotor stagePiaget’sterm for the level of humandevelopment at whichindividuals experience theworld only through their sensesPiaget’s Stages of Developmentconcrete operational stagePiaget’s term for the level ofhuman development at whichindividuals first see causalconnections in their surroundingsegoFreud’s term for a person’sconscious efforts to balanceinnate pleasure-seeking driveswith the demands of societysuperegoFreud’s termfor the cultural values andnorms internalized by anindividualidFreud’s term for thehuman being’s basicdrivesFreud’s Model of Personality
critically.At about age twelve, young people begin to reason abstractlyrather than thinking only of concrete situations. If, for example, youwere to ask a seven-year-old, “What would you like to be when yougrow up?” you might receive a concrete response such as “a teacher.”But most teenagers can think more abstractly and might reply, “Iwould like a job that helps others.” As they gain the capacity forabstract thought, young people also learn to understand metaphors.Hearing the phrase “A penny for your thoughts” might lead a childto ask for a coin, but a teenager will recognize a gentle invitation tointimacy.EvaluateFreud saw human beings torn by opposing forcesof biology and culture. Piaget saw the mind as active and creative.He saw an ability to engage the world unfolding in stages as the resultof both biological maturation and social experience.But do people in all societies pass through all four of Piaget’sstages? Living in a traditional society that changes slowly probablylimits a person’s capacity for abstract and critical thought. Even in theUnited States, perhaps 30 percent of people never reach the formaloperational stage (Kohlberg & Gilligan, 1971).