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Piaget and Assimilation

Paper Masters can show you how to write a research paper on Jean Piaget's theory on assimilation. Nearly every education class studies the theories of Piaget that examines human development, and often times Piaget's ideas on assimilation are discussed. Intertwining with his work on the stages of development, your research paper should clearly show a relationship to assimilation with these theories.

As part of Piaget's stage theories on education and learning, Jean Piaget developed the concept of assimilation, a component of adaptation as performed by infants. In the process of assimilation, individuals take in new information, combining it with already-known content and oftentimes resulting in a new level of understanding or a new concept altogether. Nearly all individuals engage in assimilation each and every day without even realizing it: each time a new piece of information is obtained, it is integrated with other elements of content, allowing the individual to expand their horizons in a variety of ways. To Piaget, assimilation is the easiest way to acquire new content: by taking in something new and incorporating it with what is already known, learning can occur. Further, adaptation occurs more readily with the process of assimilation, as individuals change their beliefs and actions to more easily reflect the new content that has been obtained.

The Process of Assimilation According to Piaget

Piaget Assimilation

The process of assimilation is largely subjective in nature. Though two individuals may be given the same content initially, the manner in which they integrate it with their current understanding can be rather different. By taking into consideration cultural competencies, life experiences, and other aspects of their individual identity, one person could arrive at an entirely different conclusion than another. To this end, the process of assimilation results in a greater sense of diversity among individuals, increasing their understanding of the world around them and allowing for greater awareness overall.

Benefits of Assimilation:

  • Diversity among individuals
  • Increased understanding of other's experience
  • Greater overall awareness
  • Reduction in subjectivity of experience

Infant Assimilation

While the world of the infant is clearly difficult to understand, there is ample evidence to suggest that cognition is taking place. To illustrate this point, one only needs to consider the reaction of the infant to a new stimulus—i.e. for instance a barking dog. If the dog frightens the child and no steps are taken to quell this fear, the infant will respond similarly when again presented with the same stimulus. When placed in this context, the process of assimilation as described by Piaget is elucidated quite well. The child associates the barking dog with fear. When no effort is made to change this response, the child naturally responds negatively when he or she hears a dog bark.

While process of assimilation appears to have notable application to understanding the theory of cognitive development of the infant, there are other aspects of Piaget’s theory that do not appear to have as much salience. This is especially true in the case of Piaget’s schemes. Piaget believed that the child was born with innate schemes that served as the foundation for cognitive development. These basic schemes were used by the child for the purposes of integrating new information. While there is ample evidence to suggest that assimilation does indeed occur, finding the root source of Piaget’s schemes appears to be much more difficult.

With this in mind, it seems reasonable to assert that while Piaget’s observations about the infant’s cognitive development do indeed have some validity, understanding the rudimentary cognition of the infant remains a mystery. Although assimilation and accommodation must be spurred by the existence of some internal mechanism, there is not enough quantifiable evidence to suggest how this mechanism works, how it develops or where it originates. Thus, even though Piaget has been able to provide modern psychologists with an integral understanding of infant development, there is still some mystery associated with this process.

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