A criminal doesn’t just wake one day and say they are going to be criminals. This decision stems from their earlier experiences in life. There is a theorist Jean Piaget that believed that children where not born this way, but that thinking patterns changed as they grew up. Piaget believed that children are naturally curious. Piaget proposed the Cognitive Development Perspective that has four stages: Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational. Within these stages there were three changes that needed to be met.
The first is the ability to create organized patterns of behavior that a person uses to think about and act in a situation. Secondly is how they adapt new information into a current situation or makes changes to a current situation and thirdly equilibration, which is the need to restore the balance of their thinking. The Sensorimotor stage, based on the child’s birth to approximately 24 months of age, is based on six phases. Phase 1, the child knows nothing; everything they do is by reflux.
Phase 2, is from one month to four months, is called the primary circular reaction when the child controls their own body. Phase 3, is from four months to eight months, this is called the secondary circular reaction, when the child shows interest to the world outside of their own bodies, like the noise of a rattle. Phase 4, is from eight months to twelve months, this is the beginning of the “means” to an “end” phase, when the child purposely does what he or she wants, for example if a parent puts the rattle under the blanket the child will move the blanket to play with the rattle.
Phase 5, is from twelve months to eighteen months, called the tertiary circular reaction, when the child begins to experiment with objects, for example he or she may shake objects to see what kind of noise it makes. The final phase to complete Sensorimotor is Phase 6, from eighteen months to twenty-four months, when the child understands that things continue to exist even when they are out of site, their memory is starting to form, and they are using hand gestures and talking.
The next stage is Preoperational this is based on approximately twenty-four months to seven years of age. Once in this stage the children have made huge strides over the sensorimotor stage children, but their thinking is still limited compared to school-aged children. Characteristics of this stage are: Centration, when the child lacks classifications, for example they see mom as mom but do not see mom as someone’s daughter.
Egocentrism, when the child does not understand that other people can feel differently then them. Transduction, when a child tends to mentally link particular experiences whether or not there is logically a casual relationship or not. Animism, when the child attributes life to a solid object that is not alive, for example a teddy bear or blanket. The Concrete Operational stage is based on approximately seven to eleven years of age.
This is when the child loses their egocentrism ways and starts to understand the use of mental operations to solve problems and to reason. In this stage they also gain classifications and conservations, which are major cognitive steps. It does have it’s limits that the child takes the “here and now” approach, they do not fully understand that there can be other solutions to a situation. The final stage is the Formal Operational Stage that is based on eleven years of age to adulthood.
In this stage, the adolescent can think hypothetically and reason deductively, by this stage in their lives, adolescents have the ability to understand that depending on their lifestyles and values there will be options in life. Even though Piaget’s cognitive development is not completely accurate with some of the age grouping and underestimation of some development stages, he is widely known for having come up with the best cognitive development theory that has helped numerous people including teachers, parents and law enforcement to understand children and how they think.