Describe Piaget's view of and research on (a) infants' understanding of objects, and (b) infants' ability to imitate. Discuss to what extent his view has been supported by subsequent research.

Essay by tinytinCollege, UndergraduateA-, March 2007

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Piaget's constructive approach of intellectual development had provided a comprehensive account of human development. Subsequent researches were devised basing on his perspective, nevertheless, with a somewhat different result. This essay aims to investigate Piaget's view and research on infants' understanding of objects and ability to imitate. The starting point will be a brief introduction on Piaget's theory, and then, concept of object permanence and imitation in infants will be discussed in turn. Various researches will also be examined to see whether Piaget's view was supported by his followers.

Piaget introduced an interactive view of human development that the organisms are acting on the environment as well as being acted on by it. Children are self-motivated to construct their knowledge through interacting with the environment. He believed that simple reflexes that children born with are adapted and modified through assimilation and accommodation, thus schema are formed. Along with the maturation of individual, different abilities will be developed.

Human development is a universal process that categorized by qualitative changes; and would proceed through four sequential stages of development: the sensorimotor; pre-operational; concrete operational; and formal operational. In sensorimotor stage, infants organize their physical action schemes to deal with reality and begin to develop pre-logical thinking in the pre-operational stage. Then, the ability to think systematically when refer to concrete objects and activities, and to understand abstract and hypothetical concept would be emerged in the concrete operational and formal operational stages respectively.

Piaget used a "clinical observation" method that involved different tasks to investigate issues such as object permanence, imitation, conservation, egocentricism and so on. And we will focus on the former two in this essay.

According to Piaget, infants before 9 months old lack the concept of object permanence. His view was supported by his longitudinal study of infants...