Quotations about


Though Jean Piaget's work in Geneva began in the 1920's, it was not until the post-behaviourist era, around 1970, that Piagetianism was to influence-and briefly to dominate-psychology in the English-speaking world. The Piagetian focus was on the growth in understanding and in the capacity for understanding that takes place through childhood. Supposedly there were marked stages of development through which children progressed away from the unreasoning, infantile world of the senses; and each advance left yet other problems to be solved by the child's further interaction with the world. How the child matured was by, first, assimilating new information and, eventually, accommodating to it. Precisely what matured so as to make possible new and productive interactions with the environment that had not occurred previously? Piagetians answered that these new interactions were enabled by the child's gradual construction of its own intelligence-rather than by biological maturation alone.
In many ways there was 'no contest' between Piagetian ideas and the notions of Spearman, Burt, Eysenck and the 'London School'. After all, IQ-testing derived from Binet's work which had been precisely concerned to chart the growth through childhood of untaught mental abilities in children. The differential psychologist could be quite happy in principle with the idea that at least some aspects of the intelligence of all children develop 'through interaction with the environment'. (Whether such exploration of and adaptation to the environment is itself a source of lasting individual differences between children is a quite distinct empirical question.) However, there was always room for misunderstanding between Piagetian and psychometric psychologists along the following lines.
1. Piagetians sometimes seemed to believe that they were offering a replacement for conventional tests of intelligence. Thus Olson (1975, Bull. Brit. Psychol. Socy.) wrote of 'the new IQ derived from Piaget'. In fact, however, Piagetian measures (of 'conservation', 'transitivity of reasoning', 'egocentrism', 'moral reasoning', etc.) invariably turned out to correlate with general intelligence (g) just as highly as their own reliabilities would allow. [Some Piagetian tests remained psychometrically at the 'pilot stage', no doubt because of a lack of interest in differences between children of the same age on 'tests' of any kind {see 2, below}; and many Piagetian assessments proved difficult to administer reliably because of the substantial involvement of the judgement of the tester (in the delicate exercise of the Piaget-preferred méthode clinique).]
2. Piagetians sometimes liked to seem egalitarian. They were not quick to correct interpretations of their ideas as implying that all children would develop (with the help of such repeated interaction with the environment as might prove necessary) and arrive at a similar more, advanced stage in the end (even if some children had arrived ahead of others). In fact, such a view is probably no part of Piaget's own doctrines, which placed as much stress on maturation as on interaction; and many adolescents certainly remain demonstrably and lastingly incompetent on many Piagetian measures of formal reasoning ('formal operations') and even of conservation. That Piagetianism sometimes appeared more egalitarian and utopian than the traditional London School approach to intelligence was merely because Piagetians simply chose to neglect altogether lasting individual differences and to concentrate on describing the typical development of the typical child.
3. There was a Piagetian stress on the importance of interaction with the environment. This seemed to conflict with psychogenetic research findings that individual differences in g are not much dependent on Genetic x Environmental Interaction. {See Quotes V and X; and, for a variable that is apparently influenced by G x E Interaction, see Quotes XVI.} In fact there is no such conflict. Psychogenetic G x E interaction, when it is invoked, is meant to help explain phenotypic differences; and it would be said to occur if people with similar genes (e.g. MZ twins) were especially similar phenotypically [i.e. in observed outcome] when (and only when) they had been reared in similar environments. If G x E interaction occurs, a particular gene-environment combination is necessary for the particular phenotype (or phenotypic level) in question; or, to put it another way, 'genetic and environmental values multiply with each other' to yield the different phenotypes. By contrast, in the Piagetian sense of interaction, we can all develop 'through interaction with the environment' without differing thereby as individuals: no particular gene-environment combinations are invoked by the Piagetian to account for differences in. [Cruelly, some might say that the Piagetian idea that we all develop 'through interaction with the environment' makes no empirical predictions and is nothing more than a feel-good catch phrase. But this hint at unfalsifiability is probably unfair. Piagetian 'interactionist' ideas must surely predict intellectual retardation and deficiency for children whose severe physical handicaps limit the degree to which they can explore, manipulate and react to the environment. That plenty of children with gross sensory and motor handicaps show good intellectual development means that-far from being unfalsifiable-the distinctively Piagetian version of 'interactionism' looks quite simply wrong.]
4. Piagetianism sometimes seemed to stress the non-improvability of educational attainments in children. By contrast, the London School psychologist, Arthur Jensen, along with many American behaviourists of the 1960's, happily recommended rote learning as a way of improving children's development. In fact, there was little contest here (except of both Schools with behaviourism): London School psychologists were somewhat happier to advocate procedures that might assist particular children's schoolwork, but neither Piaget nor Jensen (after 1968) offered anything that they claimed to improve g itself.
In fact, the two schools had much to gain from each other by co-operation on the question of what improved during developed, and what precisely went into decline in old age. Neither Spearman nor Piaget, in their original theorising, had provided totally satisfactory answers to these questions: Spearman had never shown in what precise 'mental energy' (or 'information processing capacity', as we might now say) g consisted; and Piaget had never explained why the g so carefully constructed through childhood should quite often 'deconstruct' (at least in its more 'fluid' forms - in psychometric gf) in old age {see Quotes XXI}. (For a fuller comparison of the achievements of Spearman and Piaget, see Brand, 1996, The g Factor, Chapter II.)


For more coverage of Piagetian views of
the nature and development of intelligence, see:
BRAND, C.R. (1996) The g Factor.
Chichester : Wiley DePublisher.
[The book was first issued, in March, but then withdrawn by the 'publisher' because it was deemed to have infringed modern canons of
'political correctness.']

For a Summary of the book, Newsletters concerning the
de-publication affair, and others' comments
and reviews, see the Internet URL sites:

For Chris Brand's 'Get Real About Race!'-his popular exposition of his views on race and education in the Black
hip-hop music magazine 'downlow' (Autumn, 1996)-see:


(i) Are there marked 'stages' of mental development
in the typical child? 5

(ii) What is the 'interaction with the environment' that is
fêted in Piagetian theory? 9
Does development occur via ever-more-advanced 'assimilation' and 'accommodation'?

(iii) What is Piagetian intelligence? 12
What is its relation to psychometric g and to information processing capacities? Are children
somehow 'irrational' until intelligence develops?

(iv) Can development be speeded up? 17
{See also Quotes X re Head Start programmes}

(v) Moral development 17


(i) Are there marked 'stages' of mental development
in the typical child?

"{There are three important laws of human development:
it is determined by innate rather than environmental factors;
the most necessary biological functions develop earliest; and
mental and physical development show periodic and alternating fluctuations-mental development occurring markedly between 18 months and 4 years, between 7 and 11 years,
and between 14 and 18 years.}"
Mary COLLINS & J.DREVER, 1936, Psychology and
Practical Life
. London University Press.

"[(i) The stage of sensory-motor operations] is characterised by the progressive formation of the schema of the permanent object and by the sensory-motor structuration of one's immediate spatial surroundings;
[(ii) The stage of concrete thinking operations] is characterised by a long process of elaboration of mental operations [followed by] an equally long process of structuration [during which] concrete thought processes are reversible;
[(iii) The third stage] is characterised by the development of formal, abstract thought operations."
KESSEN & KUHLMAN, 1962, Thought in the Young Child, giving
Barbara Inhelder's description of Piaget's hypothesized stages.

"Piaget follows earlier continental writers, who adopted what I called a 'stratification theory' [of mental development]. He conceives cognitive development as proceeding by relatively abrupt steps, like a staircase. My {own} conception was rather that of an inclined plane, or.... "a continuously rising line with slight retardations for purposes of consolidation".... (Unlike Piaget....I believe simple syllogistic problems can be solved by the average child of eight (cf. Burt, 1921).*).... {However,} Dr James {a fellow contributor to a symposium} is not quite correct in saying that Piaget developed his theories independently of British work. His biological basis was avowedly derived largely from Spencer; and he quotes and uses several of my tests. It is doubtless the influence of Spencer which accounts for the resemblances between Piaget's developmental theories and my own which Dr James has noted: thus we each regard cognitive activity as a mode of adaptation, involving both
{i} discriminative or analytic processes (the essence of what Piaget calls 'accommodation to outer reality') and
{ii} integrative or synthetic processes (the essence of 'assimilation', i.e. 'the construction of apperceptive schema').
It is also the influence of Spencer that led us both (in common with many other psychologists) to distinguish much the same four stages in the child's cognitive development."
Sir Cyril BURT, c. 1970, in C.B.E.James, Modern Concepts
of Intelligence
. 94, Chatsworth Road, Croydon : R.S.Reid.
{ *Burt maintained that the following item (individually administered, with the child first reading the problem from a card) would be passed by the average eight-year-old:
I don't like sea voyages.
And I don't like the seaside.
I must spend Easter either in France or among the
Scottish Hills, or on the South Coast.
Which shall it be? }

"Piaget believed that mental growth involves major qualitative changes. This hypothesis is relatively recent. According to eighteenth-century empiricists, the child's mental machinery is fundamentally the same as the adult's, the only difference being that the child has fewer associations. Nativists also minimized the distinction between the child's mind and the adult's, for they viewed the basic categories of time, space, number and causality as given a priori, being part of the native equipment that all humans have at birth."
H.GLEITMAN, 1986, Psychology, 2nd edition.
New York : Norton.

"A tribute to the particularity of at least one conservation task is provided by Rowell and Renner (1976, Brit.J.Psychol.) in their study of conservation of volume by Australian postgraduate students for a Diploma in Education. When asked to judge whether a ball of plasticine would change its volume when gently rolled into the shape of a sausage, no less that 18% of the students - and 28.4% of the female graduates from Arts backgrounds- said that it would, thus exhibiting failure to conserve volume. And this is no unique finding: Rowell and Renner were following up studies in which rates of non-conservation had been found as high as 61% in female first-year students of mathematics."
C.R.BRAND, 1977, 'Piagetian intelligence'.
(For E.U. Psychology, Year IV Class.)

"There is a growing feeling that Piaget's stage model of cognitive development is in serious trouble.... It is proving less credible to developmentalists and less useful to educators.... However we may wish it otherwise, human cognitive growth may simply be too contingent, multiform, and heterogeneous-too variegated in developmental mechanisms, routes and rates-to be accurately characterizable by any stage theory of the Piagetian kind."
J.FLAVELL, 1978, Behavioral & Brain Sciences 1.

"....there is no compelling support for Piaget's hypothesis that his cognitive stages do more than re-describe age-related changes in behavior."
C.J.BRAINERD, 1978, Behavioral & Brain Sciences 1.

"....the criticism [of Piagetian theory] is that different behaviours belonging to the same stage are acquired at very different times.... When empirical research demonstrated the validity of this criticism.... [some Piagetian writers] suggested that simultaneous acquisition of different stage-defining behaviours was not crucial to the theory. However, if the hypothesis is abandoned, other evidence must be found to support the claim that stages are general descriptions of cognitive functioning at some period in development. In short, a Piagetian who eats his cake must be taught (with the help of rote learning if necessary) that he no longer has it."
T.J.BERNDT, 1978, Behavioral & Brain Sciences 1.

"It seems premature to take a firm stand now as to whether development should be sliced into three or more macrodevelopmental levels, irrespective of their formalization."
Annette KARMILOFF-SMITH, 1978, Behavioral & Brain Sciences 1.

"One of the basic predictions of Piaget's theory is that children's performance will be consistent across a wide range of tasks.... An eight-year-old should be able to pass all concrete-operations-level tasks (conservation, class inclusion, seriation, transitivity, etc.) but should fail all formal-operations-level tasks (balance scale, projection of shadows, probability, pendulum, etc.).... It has become increasingly apparent that the concurrence assumption is at best overstated."
R.S.SIEGLER & D.D.RICHARDS, 1982, in R.J.Sternberg,
Handbook of Human Intelligence. Cambridge University Press.

"In Piaget's experiment on conservation of volume, the experimenter shows the child two tumblers, one short and squat, the other tall and thin. He fills the short, squat one with water, and then pours the water from that tumbler into the other. He asks the child, who has watched this whole procedure, if there is the same amount of water in both tumblers. Because of the difference in shapes, the water is closer to the top of the long, thin tumbler. It appears to be full, unlike the short, squat one. Because of this, the young child will usually say "no". Bruner performed this experiment in exactly the same manner, with one difference: before he emptied the liquid from one tumbler into the other, he placed a screen between the tumblers and the child. When he asked the question, "Is there the same amount of water now?" the four-year-olds, unable to see the pouring of water into the tumblers, answered "yes". Thus, it appears that when there is no information overload, constancy can be achieved even at this early age."
R.ORNSTEIN, 1985, Psychology.
San Diego : Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

"Piaget and his co-workers produced evidence of, for example, their stage theory, and the presence or absence of certain logical structures at specific ages. But then researchers started to modify their procedures slightly, revealing abilities in children which were simply not brought out, or were inhibited, in the previous procedures, and the 'evidence' of Piaget started to crumble (see M.Donaldson, 1978, Children's Minds, and contributions in K.Richardson & S.Sheldon, 1987, Cognitive Development in Adolescence)."
K.RICHARDSON, 1988, Understanding Psychology.
Milton Keynes : Open University Press.

(ii) What is the 'interaction with the environment' that is
fêted in Piagetian theory?
Does development occur via ever-more-advanced 'assimilation' and 'accommodation'?

" The basic epistemological alternatives are predestination or some sort of constructivism."
J.PIAGET, 1971, Structuralism.

"Piaget's theory of operations has troubled some of us as being rather abstract and philosophical; but when he says that motor activity is "the fountainhead of the operations", he brings his position within the boundaries of empirical science."
C.JAMES, c. 1970, in C.James, Modern Concepts of Intelligence.
94, Chatsworth Road, Croydon : R.S.Reid.

"....while the fecundity of the subject's thought processes depends on the internal resources of the organism, the efficacy of these processes depends on the fact that the organism is not independent of the environment but can only live, act or think in interaction with it."
Jean PIAGET, 1971, Biology and Knowledge.
Edinburgh University Press.

"Piaget was an interactionist: the biological brain needs opportunities to flex its cerebral potential, especially by fiddling with objects in space."
D.COHEN, 1983, Piaget. London : Croom Helm.

"[Assimilation and accommodation] are interesting ideas, but very general, and as such difficult to pin down to any experiment. Nor surprisingly, Piaget does not offer any direct experimental evidence for assimilation and accommodation."
P.BRYANT, 1974, Perception and Understanding
in Young Children
. London : Methuen.

"Contrary to Piaget's formulation that cognitive development is unidirectional and that little cognitive change occurs during adulthood, the elderly display lower levels of cognitive ability than younger adults (and sometimes as low as children) on measures of moral judgement and egocentrism, and certain logical operations tasks, such as those requiring conservation ability."
H.L.MINTON & F.W.SCHNEIDER, 1980, Differential Psychology.
Belmont, California : Wadsworth (Brooks / Cole).

"The expectation that constructions of sensory-motor intelligence determine the character of a mental organ such as language seems to me to be hardly more plausible than a proposal that the fundamental properties of the eye or the visual cortex or the heart develop on that basis."
Noam CHOMSKY, 1980, 'On cognitive structures and their
development: a reply to Piaget'. In M.Piattelli-Ialmarimi,
Language and Learning: the Debate between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul.

"In our view, those who propose that genotype-environment interactions are major determinants of intellectual variation in populations are more interested in putting roadblocks in the way of studies of normal human variation than in clarifying the scientific issues."
Sandra SCARR & Louise CARTER-SALTZMAN, 1982, in R.J.Sternberg, Handbook of Human Intelligence. Cambridge University Press.

"Many researchers (such as Bower, 1974, and Butterworth, 1981)....are opposed to Piaget's constructionist theory of perception. Although they would agree with Piaget that the baby's 'knowledge' is not the same as the adult's and has yet to be developed, nevertheless they would not agree that the newborn baby lives in a chaotic world which can only gradually be structured through the infant's own activity. In contrast, they take a 'Gibsonian' view....that some properties of objects in space (such as three-dimensionality) are directly perceptible by the sensory system and not dependent on the experience mediated by motor activity."
Maureen COX, 1986, The Child's Point of View.
Brighton, Sussex : Harvester.

"The process whereby the genotype reads out into the phenotype and creates individual environments that then feed back, causally, into the phenotype, may be called one of transaction. This is arguably an important process that has been neglected, or at least imprecisely formulated, while inchoate developmental psychologists have preferred to opt out of nature vs nurture arguments about human differences by appealing to the omnipresence of obscure 'interaction effects' that are, in their work, forever unspecified. Transaction, by contrast, is a clear spelling-out of the basic hereditarian idea: that individuals move in their own ways, when given the opportunities, to select and to create environments that are enriching and fulfilling - or, in some cases, otherwise."
Editorial in Biology & Society 4, ix 1987.

"....the reaction of Piagetians to marked similarities between separated identical twins {cf. Matheny, 1975, Developmental Psychol. 11} and to marked dissimilarities between adopted children reared together is one of boredom - apparently because such findings tell us so little in detail about how, precisely, such differences come about."
C.R.BRAND, 1988, in D.Anderson, Full Circle.
London : Social Affairs Unit.

(iii) What is Piagetian intelligence?
What is its relation to psychometric g and to information processing capacity? Are children somehow 'irrational'
until intelligence develops?

"....the new IQ which is based on Piaget measures competence with the quantitative dimensional logic which modern science finds so useful."
D.R.OLSON, 1975, Bulletin of the British Psychological Socy 28.

"For Piaget, intelligence is not 'what the tests test' but what his tests test."
Edinburgh University Honours Psychology student, 1980.

"Around 1968, Jean Piaget replaced Sigmund Freud....as the leading guru for academic psychologists who inclined to believe that dark irrationality and impenetrable subjectivity might be found somewhere near the core - or at least near the developmental source - of
the human psyche."
C.R.BRAND, 1988, Psychology News 2, No.2.

"It was possible to demonstrate that an essential step in the solution of a
conservation problem is the processing of an equation. By increasing the number of originally equal quantities, the number of distributions and redistributions, the number of parts formed thereby, and the number of so-called reversibility steps necessitated by a particular test question, equations could be generated to define systematically the contents of problems. The greater the value of these parameters, the larger the number of equations presented by it. The larger the number of equations involved in a problem, the greater its informational content. The correlation between subjects' pass rate and information load was .943 (N=150)."
V.HAMILTON & J.MOSS, 1974, Child Development.

"H.J.Butcher (1968, Human Intelligence) has noted....the unfortunate involvement of leading questions in some attempts to explore the alleged irrationality of the mind of the child: when children are asked (as in some reported [Piagetian] studies]), 'Does the wind know it makes the clouds move?' it is hard to resist thinking that it is merely the implicit 'animism' of the question that - coupled with the acquiescence of young children - yields the supposed 'animism' of the answers.... {Anyhow} it appears to be the case that the course of development as characterised by Piagetians is....one that can be broadly represented as a progress in....information processing capacity.... Halford (in P.C.Dodwell, 1972, New Horizons in Psychology II, Penguin) refers to calculations by McLaughlin, Pascual-Leone and himself that the differences between the Piagetian tasks that can typically be solved by children of different ages can be represented as differences in the number of 'bits' or 'chunks' of information that have to be processed."
C.R.BRAND, 1976, 'Conceptions of intelligence:
a discussion paper'. (For E.U. Psychology, Final Honours Class.)

"Serpell (1976, Culture's Influence on Behaviour, Methuen) notes that, although one study in Nigeria and another in Hong Kong have found development of concrete-operational conservation at typical Western ages, most cross-cultural studies find results that will not surprise any of the critics of the 'culture-boundness' of IQ tests. So, "[according to Dasen], a typical curve...of "retarded" development has been reported many times.... Dasen's review cites such results from studies of African children in Rhodesia, Senegal and Uganda, Arab children in Algeria and Aden, Eskimo and Indian children in Canada, children of the West Indies in Europe and Australia.... ....Further evidence of the relation between conservation abilities and IQ is seen in Rushton and Wiener's (1975, Brit. J. Soc. & Clin. Psychol.) study of altruism and cognitive development in 7-to-11-year-old children. This study was concerned-amongst other things-with 'the notion of generalized cognitive developmental levels'. Tests of role-taking, egocentricity, cognitive complexity, conservation and IQ were administered to the children in their schools in Hertfordshire. The failure of the standard liquid conservation task (scored in terms of the adequacy of the justifications given by the children) to contribute any variance beyond that of IQ was noticeable: once age and IQ were partialled out, conservation was left with one small correlation (with cognitive complexity) which the authors themselves dismiss as a chance finding. In their study as a whole, there were twenty-three significant correlations between test variables out of a possible forty-five: only five of these remained significant once the effects of age and IQ had been partialled out."
C.R.BRAND, 1977, 'Piagetian intelligence'.

"The Piagetian rejoices in the instances of unreasonable childish notions that can be thought to have something deeply in common. Thus Olson (1978, Behav. & Brain Sci. 1) volunteers:
"at one time in his life, a child fails to see that active sentences are logically equivalent to passive ones, that "not more" is logically equivalent to "less", that an ascending series, or staircase, is simultaneously a descending one, and so on, because his cognitive structures lack the property of reversibility.... If a child is asked to construct an "X" pattern with checkers, he is unwilling to allow the center checker to serve simultaneously as a part of both the left oblique and the right oblique.... If children are asked to build ascending and descending staircases, they are unwilling to allow the top block in the ascending series to serve also as the top block of the descending series; rather, they have two top blocks side by side, one for the top of each of the ascending and descending series.... Young children are unwilling to let one bell serve for two notes in producing a tune like "Ba Ba Black Sheep" - they insist upon one bell for each of the first two notes. And so on. In a Piagetian scheme, all these forms of intelligent behaviour would be accounted for by the same underlying structure."
By contrast with Olson, the phlegmatic differentialist and his empiricist allies would suppose it all too typical of 'depth' psychology to impute self-contradiction to young Jack when he [takes "not more" as tolerantly licensing the perfectly reasonable claim to be "neither more, nor less" (e.g. 'neither more nor less tall than young Jill')]..... Again, Harris (1976, Brit.J.Psychol.) found that the understanding of the passive voice [which is strongly related to mental age (as measured by a traditional psychometric measure of verbal intelligence)] is not so consistently incorrect in young children as to suggest any kind of irrationality; and, in fact, children of a mental age of five could cope with passives where subject and object are non-reversible in common sense ("The cow is ridden by the farmer") even though they could not cope with potentially reversible passives ("The lamb is licked by the dog"). What "underlying cognitive structure" is needed to account for the occasional and grammatically unsystematic errors of young children?.... Is not a great deal more care necessary before saying that certain kinds of thinking only appear at a certain stage, let alone that systematic irrationality was the rule prior to the various happy transitions?"
C.R.BRAND, 1979, 'Piagetian stages: psychometric and ontogenetic issues.' (E.U.Psychology, for Final Honours Class.)

"....it does not seem that current work {with apparent alternatives to I.Q.-type tests} - with Piagetian tasks, with concept formation and learning, or with cognitive styles - is capable of yielding much more diagnostically useful information than present intelligence tests."
P.E.VERNON, 1979, Intelligence: Heredity and Environment.
San Francisco : Freeman.

"....it is instructive to look at a principal components analysis of Piagetian items. A study by Garfinkle (1975) provides intercorrelations among fourteen Piagetian tasks administered to ninety-six kindergarten and first-grade children. The mean inter-item correlation is +.34.... The first principal component accounts for 40 per cent of the total variance in these fourteen items.... The communalities (which are close to the squared multiple correlation of each item with every other item) of the fourteen Piagetian items range from .41 to .80, with a mean of .61, which is comparable to what we find for Wechsler subtests.... But what makes this evidence even more striking testimony to Piaget's genius in devising test items* that get at the most fundamental aspects of intellectual development is the fact that the general factor of the Piagetian battery is almost pure g in the Spearman sense."
A.R.JENSEN, 1980, Bias in Mental Testing. London : Methuen.
{*However, as Jensen mentions later, Piagetian 'items' often take as long to administer as does a whole Wechsler sub-test that is composed of many items taking less than a minute to administer.}

"Piaget spent his whole working life trying to prove the startling inadequacies of childhood.... there is now plenty of evidence that Piaget's gloomy stance was, to say the least, exaggerated."
P.BRYANT, 1982, Nature, 11 xi.

"....Bower {a Piagetian sympathiser} (1979) has concluded that babies 'appear to have a very limited information processing rate. Many everyday events occur at a rate too high for babies to register all the relevant information.' Altogether, it seems reasonable to continue to hypothesize at this stage that intake speed improves and declines in parallel with mental age."
C.R.BRAND & I.J.DEARY, 1982, in H.J.Eysenck,
A Model for Intelligence. New York : Springer.

"When cross-sectional studies of Piagetian tasks were carried out, old people were found to perform more like young children on classificatory tasks, to be more animistic, more egocentric, and to be less likely to display formal thought than young adults."
Joanna TURNER, 1983, Cognitive Development and Education.
London : Methuen.

"....Luria's and Piaget's theories refer to similar psychological processes. It also appears that cognitive development, as described by these authors, is related to psychometric intelligence." Rhona STEINBERG & J.JSCHUBERT, 1984, Bulletin of the British Psychological Society 37.

"....constructivist theories tend to be rather vague. This has been a problem since Kant himself, who was notably obscure about key aspects [of his view that human knowledge and its development are subject to logical constraints].... Many who acknowledge the 'richness' of [Piaget's] theory also complain that the logical structures are abstract and difficult to operationalize (e.g. R.Case, 1985, Intellectual Development)."
K.RICHARDSON, 1988, Understanding Psychology.
Milton Keynes : Open University Press.

"{Contrary to the Piagetian idea that young children are especially egocentric, Maureen Cox, The Child's Point of View, demonstrates that} it is precisely the acquisition of one's very own pictorial perspective that is actually developmentally delayed-younger children tend to draw what they know (e.g. they draw motor cars seen from above, with the four wheels splayed out at the sides), not what the see...."
C.R.BRAND, 1988, Psychology News 2, No. 2.

"Charles Spearman saw [analogical reasoning - 'pig : boar :: dog : ? '] as central to intelligence. The Piagetian story on analogical reasoning
is that it is one of the last abilities to develop, only appearing at the age of 11 or 12. In contrast, U.Goswami (1992, Analogical Reasoning in Children) is one of a new school who advance a knowledge-based theory of development. This is a modified, nativist theory which claims that we are, more or less, born with the mental processes that do full-scale, analogical reasoning. However, because the knowledge which these processes act on changes with development, we witness....developmental shifts in behaviour. So, even very young children basically know how to do analogies but, when the analogy involves unfamiliar knowledge, they fail."
Mark KEANE, 1993, 'Born to reason why'.
Times Higher Educational Supplement, 2 iv.

"{By the 1970's came} the first reports indicating that 'Piagetian intelligence', far from being the non-g intelligence so often sought by psychologists, correlated perfectly well with traditional IQ, and especially with measures of fluid, untaught, general intelligence (gf) (see Tuddenham, 1970; Steinberg & Schubert, 1974; Kuhn, 1976; Humphreys & Parsons, 1979; Willerman, 1979, pp.98-99; Carroll et al., 1984). For example, Raven's Matrices and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children correlated with Piagetian measures of conservation, seriation and class inclusion as highly as the reliabilities of the latter would allow-and as high as .80 when Spearman's correction was applied; and the Wechsler Scale correlated at .88 with a full range of 27 Piagetian tests (Humphreys et al., 1985).
C.R.BRAND, 1996, The g Factor. Chichester, UK : Wiley DePublisher.

(iv) Can development be speeded up?

"....well-meaning learning theorists who train small children to ignore perceptual cues, to side-step misconceptions be reciting verbal rules, and so forth, are doing....children a grave disservice."
Annette KARMILOFF-SMITH, 1978.

"Piaget was apt to mock 'the American question' of how to speed up development. That was transatlantic frivolity."
D.COHEN, 1983, Piaget. London : Croom Helm.

(v) Moral development

"....there exists in European thought a law in the evolution of moral judgments which is analagous to the law of which psychology watches the effects throughout the development of the individual....bringing to light in the evolution of Western philosophic thought the gradual victory of the norms of reciprocity over those of social conformism."
PIAGET, 1932. The Moral Judgment of the Child.
New York : Free Press, 1965.

"There are....serious difficulties with the very idea of progressive development, aside from it being discredited in biology. In historiography, the belief in human progress has become problematic in the face of two world wars, nuclear brinkmanship and the collapse of the Marxist state, which was founded on a messianic, progressive history."
B.VANDENBERG, 1993, Theory & Psychology 3.


"The work of Piaget was at first unjustifiably neglected in the English-speaking countries, and then equally unjustifiably elevated to the status of sacred doctrine."
H.J.EYSENCK, 1979.

"....in 1978, John Flavell-the psychologist who had first introduced Piaget to the English-speaking world-noted with sympathy 'a growing feeling in the field that Piaget's stage model of cognitive development is in serious trouble'. For matters had transpired as follows. (1) The 'new' tests of development correlated extremely well with the old - except that the new ones were less reliable and yielded a male advantage and a larger White-Black difference. (2) Because the mental developments of childhood failed to covary as predicted, the hypothesized stages of development did not demonstrably exist, and had to be condemned as 'simplistic' by Piagetians themselves. (3) Those intriguing putative explicators of stage-transitions, assimilation and accommodation, were incapable of empirical demonstration."
C.R.BRAND, 1984, Psychology News 1, No. 38.

"Piagetian theory was once considered capable of describing the structure of development of human thought. However, disillusionment with Piagetian theory came rather quickly because many of its structural and developmental assumptions appeared incongruent with empirical evidence.
In recent years, several neo-Piagetian theories have been proposed which try to preserve the strengths of Piaget's theory while eliminating its weaknesses. At the same time several other models have been advanced originating from different epistemological traditions, such as cognitive/differential psychology or socio-historical approaches."
Publisher's announcement, 1992, for A.Demetriou, M.Shayer &
A.Efkildes (eds.), Neo-Piagetian Theories of Cognitive
, International Library of Psychology.

"There are....serious difficulties with the very idea of progressive development, aside from it being discredited in biology. In historiography, the belief in human progress has become problematic in the face of two world wars, nuclear brinkmanship and the collapse of the Marxist state, which was founded on a messianic, progressive history.... The identity of the field of developmental psychology is closely tied to a vision of human life as progressive, and therefore it suffers from similar problems."
B.VANDENBERG, 1993, Theory & Psychology 3.

"By the end of the 1980's, the force of data, theory and cultural commitment had led to The Rational Infant, in which [Edinburgh University's Tom] Bower announced, after a review of the evidence, that "[what] we will accomplish in theory and practice will, I am certain, depend on what we can bring ourselves to accept of the idea that the infant we know so well, the beautiful baby we all adore, is, as well as all that, a rational infant." Merely as witnesses to a historical moment , we should be struck in awe: the psychology of the early 20th century that denied rationality to 'primitive' adults of Africa and Asia, to most females (whatever their age) of our own culture, and unambiguously to male babies, is now willing to grant this ultimate accolade to all human children in their first months of life. ....With no perceptible organizing theory, research studies of young human beings have found mental abilities in babies that no professional observer had seen prior to 1970. ....There is of course the often touted end of theory: the deaths of Piaget and Skinner took away the most recent persistent claimants to conceptual hegemony and the late Vygotskian flurry already seems pale."
W.KESSEN, 1993, 'Avoiding the emptiness: the full infant.'
Theory & Psychology 3.

"For the developmental theorist," [writes Esther Thelen, of Indiana University], "individual differences pose an enormous challenge....Developmental theory has not met this challenge with much success." And this is, in part, because individual differences are seen as extraneous, whereas Thelen argues that it is precisely such differences, the huge variation between individuals, that allow the evolution of unique motor patterns.... [Thelen found] there is great variability among infants at first, with many patterns of reaching for objects; but there then occurs, over the course of several months, a competition among these patterns, a discovery or selection of workable patterns, or workable motor solutions. The solutions....are always different and individual, adapted to the particular dynamics of each child...."
Oliver SACKS, 1993, 'Making up the mind',
The New York Review, 8 iv.

"Piaget and the Piagetians could not hide, circumvent or explain lasting individual differences in g; and they could not demonstrate that ceaseless, 'constructive' developmental interaction was in fact necessary to normal intelligence - though none would doubt that interaction with the environment is often a result of intelligence. Nor could any particular differences between children in Piagetian 'interaction with the environment' be shown to yield the lasting individual differences in IQ that required explanation; and even Piaget's claims as to what were the main 'stages' of development came to be so qualified by the researches of his English-speaking followers as to leave little but Binet's premise that children's intelligence increases with age."
C.R.BRAND, 1996, The g Factor.
Chichester, UK : Wiley DePublisher.


(Compiled by Chris Brand, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh.)

For more coverage of Piagetian views of the nature
and development of intelligence, see:
BRAND, C.R. (1996) The g Factor.
Chichester : Wiley DePublisher.

"The nature and measurement of intelligence is a political hot potato. But Brand in this extremely readable, wide-ranging and up-to-date
book is not afraid to slaughter the shibboleths of modern "educationalists". This short book provides a great deal for thought
and debate."
Professor Adrian Furnham, University College London.
The book was first issued, in February, but then withdrawn, in April, by the 'publisher' because it was deemed to have infringed modern canons of
'political correctness.'
It received a perfectly favourable review in Nature (May 2, 1996, p. 33).

For a Summary of the book, Newsletters concerning the
de-publication affair, details of how to see the book for scholarly purposes, and others' comments and reviews,
see the Internet URL sites:

For Chris Brand's 'Get Real About Race!'-his popular exposition of his views on race and education in the Black
hip-hop music magazine 'downlow' (Autumn, 1996)-see:

A reminder of what is available in other Sections of 'P, B & S.'

Summary Index

(This resource manual of quotations about individual and group differences, compiled by
Mr C. R. Brand, is kept on the Internet and in Edinburgh University Psychology Department Library.)
Pages of Introduction
3 - 11 Full Index, indicating key questions in each Section.
12 - 14 Preface. - Why quotations? - Explanations and apologies.
15 - 51 Introduction: Questions, Arguments and Agreements in the study of Personality.
Some history, and a discussion of 'realism vs 'idealism.'
52 - 57 Introductory Quotes about the study of personality.
General problems
1 'Situational' vs 'personological' approaches to human variation.
2 'Nomothetic' vs 'idiographic', 'subjective' and relativistic approaches.
3 Personality dimensions-by factor analysis and otherwise.
4 'Superstructure' and 'infrastructure.' - The 'mind/body problem'.
5 Nature versus Nurture? - Or Nature via Nurture?
6 The role of consciousness in personality and 'multiple personality'.
7 The 'folk psychology' of personality components.
8 The measurement of intelligence. - Does g exist?
9 The bases of intelligence. - What is the psychology of g?
10 The developmental origins of g differences. - The nature and nurture of g.
11 The importance of intelligence. - The psychotelics of g.
12 Piagetianism: Kant's last stand?
13 Cognitivism: 'The Emperor's New Mind?'
14 Neurosis, emotion and Neuroticism.
15 Psychosis, psychopathy and Psychoticism.
16 Crime and criminality.
17 Genius and creativity.
Popular proposals - psychoanalytic, phrenological and prophylactic
18 Psychoanalysis: 'Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire'?
19 Hemispherology: a twentieth-century phrenology?
20 Psycho-social Engineering: therapy, training or transformation?
Group differences
21 Age and ageing - especially, the role of g in 'life-span development'.
22 Psychological sex differences. - Do they exist? Must they exist?
23 Social class. - Does it matter any longer?
24 Racial and ethnic differences. - Their role in 'lifestyles' and cultural attainments.
Ideological issues
25 The psychology of politics and ideological extremism.
26 The politics of psychologists and allied co-workers.
27 Equality and Community: the 'utopian' package of political aims.
28 Freedom and Responsibility: the 'legitimist' package of political aims.
Pragmatic questions
29 Carry on differentializing?
30 Carry on psycho-testing?
Appendix: Factor Analysis. - 'Garbage in, garbage out'?


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