Developmental Psychology of Jean Piaget


The major purpose of the book is simply to speak clearly for Piaget to anyone who has reasons to listen to what he has to say and who has some background and sophistication in psychology or related disciplines. Who might such a reader be? He certainly might be a psychologist -- budding or full-fledged, by vocation or by avocation, with child-developmental interests but also with other interests. He might also be a student of education, psychiatry, philosophy, sociology, and perhaps other fields; Piaget has done and said things which have implications well beyond the boundaries of psychology proper. The book has a secondary aim, important but nonetheless secondary: to evaluate Piaget's work, both methodologically and in view of related work done by others. The first ten chapters serve the primary objective, while the last two, and particularly the last one, attempt to fulfill the secondary aim.

Like the objects of Piaget's theory, this book began life as something quite other than what it eventually became. In 1955 I set out to write a graduate text on theories of child development. All was smooth sailing at first, and I judged that the whole project would be completed within a year. The theories I planned to write about appeared for the most part to be in just the kind of state which would make my task a quick and easy one. That is, their author -- or someone else -- had already given a reasonably clear, detailed, and integrated account of them in some one or several publications each. All I had to do was to read these publications carefully and distill what I had read into a one-chapter summary of each theory, with perhaps a little restructuring and change of emphasis here and there.

One very important theory of child development -- Piaget's -- turned out to be in a state so utterly recalcitrant to this plan that the plan itself finally unraveled. As I began to learn more about Piaget's work, certain conclusions -- initially resisted -- eventually seemed inescapable. First, Piaget's work obviously had to be an important segment of the proposed text if it was to be a text on developmental theories. Second, it became all too clear that it would take me several years to read enough Piaget to feel at all confident about constructing an accurate and properly balanced summary of his theory. More than that, I began to worry about . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Princeton, NJ
Publication year:
  • 1963


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