Piaget's Theory and Children's
Development of Prosodal Behavior:
The Force of Negation
University of Lisbon-Portugal
Since the translation of Piagef s (1965/1995) Sociological Studies in 1995, it is clear that the widespread belief that Piaget's theory is inherently individualistic and leaves no room for the role of the social in development is misleading at its best, nonsensical at its worst Even authors who have identified some problems in Piaget's sociological theory (see Carpendale & Muller, chaps. 1 and 11, this volume) acknowledge that the essays included in his Sociological Studies demonstrate the continuity of his interest in the social dimension of development.
However, instead of arguing in favor of the existence of a social dimension in Piaget's theory, I follow a different track in this chapter. Specifically, I argue that some of Piaget's key cognitive concepts may help us understand the development of certain social behaviors. A case in point is prosocial behavior or “voluntary behavior intended to benefit another” (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998, p. 701). This chapter shows, bom theoretically and empirically, that Piagef s (1974) concepts of affirmation and negation and his ideas on costs and gains involved in children's centrations and operations (Piaget, 1957) are of much value in helping us understand empirical phenomena of children's development of prosocial behavior. These Piagetian concepts shed some light on the finding that as children get older, and specifically during the latter half of the first decade of life, “there is increasing evidence of altruistic concern and related prosocial action” (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998, p. 746; see also Krebs, 1970; Underwood & Moore, 1982).