The operational stage according to Piaget: characteristics and examples

  • Nov 24, 2023
click fraud protection
The operational stage according to Piaget: characteristics and examples

Jean Piaget was a well-known scientist who, within the area of ​​Psychology and Biology, stood out for his studies regarding the cognitive development of human beings. According to his constructivist theory of the development of intelligence, cognition in humans evolves through of four qualitatively different stages that take place in more or less evolutionary periods determined. The stages that he proposes are the sensorimotor stage (between 0 and 2 years), the pre-operational stage (from 2 to 7 years), the stage of concrete operations (from 7 to 12 years) and the stage of formal operations (from 12 years to age adult).

In this Psychology-Online article we will talk more specifically about the stage of concrete operations. We will define what it is The operational stage according to Piaget: characteristics and examples. Finally, we will give examples of specific activities to work on cognitive development during this stage.

You may also like: The preoperational stage according to Piaget: characteristics and examples


  1. What is Piaget's operational stage?
  2. Characteristics of the stage of concrete operations
  3. Piaget's experiments in the operational stage
  4. Examples of Piaget's operational stage

What is Piaget's operational stage.

Piaget's operational stage is defined as that stage of cognitive development in which children between 7 and 11 years old begin to develop rational thinking. It is characteristic of this stage that, to develop this type of thinking, children make use of the physical stimuli they perceive, without yet being able to base their thinking on abstract ideas (this will occur in the next and final stage of the operations formal).

In this way, rational thinking is built from the personal physical experiences of children, thereby initiating the construction of first rational cognitive schemes, which will serve as a basis for the subsequent stage of formal operations.

In this article you will find more information about Piaget's theory of cognitive development.

The operational stage according to Piaget: characteristics and examples - What is Piaget's operational stage

Characteristics of the stage of concrete operations.

The main characteristics of cognitive functioning that occur in the stage of concrete operations, among others, are:

  • The basis from which the elements to create operational reasoning come from are the physical stimuli of the present.
  • It consolidates the grouping or classification stage of elements as the basic functioning of the beginning of logical reasoning.
  • Starting from this, Arithmetic serialization skills are developed and mental ordering of sets
  • These logical operations occur through reversibility in two manifestations: by inversion, or classification of the elements with their peers and by reciprocity, from which the order and relationship that exist between them are established. they
  • Another important logical operation of this stage is the conservation, a process that allows children to become aware of how a certain measurement (length, weight, etc.) is maintained despite the fact that their physical appearance may show certain variation
  • Also reasoning, judgments and deductions begin about the concepts cause, space, time and speed
  • During this stage, egocentrism is reduced, giving way to a more social and external view that allows improving the quality of your social relationships

Piaget's experiments in the operational stage.

Some of the experiments carried out by Piaget to confirm the mental operations that occur in the cognitive development of children at this stage are the following:

  • Conservation experiment: Through this experiment, Piaget intended to verify the manifestation of the capacity for conservation in children, that is, the confirmation that the measurement used is the same despite having changed the shape of the container used. Water was used for this experiment. First, the same amount of water was presented in two equal containers. Next, the water was poured from one of the containers into a third, larger or smaller one. From here, the children were asked if there was the same amount in the first and third containers.
  • Classification experiment- The child will be provided with several objects with similarities to each other based on only one of the following criteria at a time, shape, color or size. The child will begin, already at this stage, a classification of physical objects through mental processes and not so much through empirical verification as in the previous stages.
  • pendulum experiment: Through this experiment, Piaget evaluated children's ability to establish the speed of the pendulum from from the analysis of three variables: length of the rope, weight of the elements used and force impressed when performing the impulse. Throughout the stage of concrete operations, children search for the answer by analyzing the effect of the variables systematically, one by one, so that they can check the direct effect of each of them on the final result to, in this way, find the answer to the problem posed.

You may also be interested in the article What is the semiotic function according to Piaget and how to use it.

Examples of Piaget's operational stage.

Piaget's cognitive development classification system has been the basis for classifying the various educational levels in academic systems in various countries around the world. In Spain, specifically, Piaget's operational stage currently covers the primary education.

Throughout this stage, which includes from first to sixth grade, children will develop the thinking typical of this stage through various academic tasks carried out in different subjects. These will evolve from simpler tasks to others of greater complexity, allowing the various skills and abilities of their evolutionary development to improve.

Among the different tasks used in this stage for this purpose we find the following:

  • Different arithmetic operations: add, subtract, multiply, divide, etc.
  • Create and develop stories
  • Chemical experiments
  • Study of animal and human biology
  • Study of linguistic grammar
  • Mathematical problem solving
  • Physical education
  • Teamwork and educational projects
  • etc

Through the curricular contents of each and every one of the subjects, as well as the transversal activities included in the school curriculum, children at this stage will progressively develop their rational capacity in this stage of operations concrete.

The operational stage according to Piaget: characteristics and examples - Examples of Piaget's operational stage

This article is merely informative, at Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to The operational stage according to Piaget: characteristics and examples, we recommend that you enter our category of Cognitive psychology.


  • Piaget, J. (2022). "The representation of the world in the child". Morata Editions.
instagram viewer