Discuss Piaget's account of cognitive development in the preoperational stage.

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Cognitive development refers to "...how a person perceives, thinks, and gains an understanding of his or her world through the interaction and influence of genetic and learned factors" (Plotnik, 1999). Cognitive development in the preoperational stage refers to a five year period of mental maturation during childhood.. The first methods of studying this growth were developed by Jean Piaget, who hypothesized that this growth took place over four different stages of development.

Here we will be discussing Piaget's second stage of cognitive development, the preoperational stage.

The five years of the preoperational stage occur during the ages of two and seven years, whereupon children begin to develop a coherent mental representation of the world, but operations needed to perform this organization are still lacking. Children are now capable of "using words and images to represent their experiences" and are "capable of reconstructing the past" (Piaget, 1932). During the preoperational stage, children's thinking becomes more dominated by observation and perception.

In this stage, a child begins to develop the ability to decentre, and full ability to conserve will follow this development. Other main characteristics of the preoperational stage are egocentrism, centration, reversibility and transformation.

The preoperational stage is made up of two phases; the preconceptual phase, lasting from ages two to four, and the intuitive phase, lasting from ages four to seven.

During the preconceptual phase, children are able to split their mental representations into categories, but cannot differentiate between the members of the category. Piaget demonstrated this through an example, where his son sees two similar snails a short distance from each other, but believes that they are the same snail. (Le Francois, 2000).

Also during the preconceptual phase, children practice transductive reasoning, concluding that events occurring next to each other cause each other, where an ostative definition of schema...