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Specific operative period

The concrete operative period is the third stage in the theory of the cognitive development of Jean Piaget   and is 6 years to 12 years . In this period the knowing subject develops an organized and reasoned thought and will act on the object of knowledge in a particular way.

Characteristics of the specific operative period

Concrete operations are mental structures that allow the child to carry out logical and operational operations , for example, to preserve the invariable properties of the object, that is, despite the fact that the object or the subject is transformed, the subject will remain the same . This is how the child begins to develop logic.

At this stage of cognitive development the child is mature enough to use logical thinking, and adapt and understand the rules proposed by society.

Although he thinks logically, in general, the child at this stage is not able to think abstractly or hypothetically. It mentally “operates” on concrete objects and events, but is not yet capable of operating systematically on representations of objects or events.

The operations themselves are mental structures that correspond to methodological operations, namely: equivalence, addition, multiplication, union, implication, relation.

In this period, operations would become actions that become reversible by integrating a system or overall structure. Assimilation and accommodation are balanced, because the child is more adapted to reality . The symbolic does not disappear but assumes it and accommodates it, it is more organized. Before the environment had more impact on the subject, now it is the other way around, that is why throughout cognitive development there is talk of a non-static mobile accommodation .

Stages of the specific operative period

Within the specific operative period of cognitive development we can find 6 important stages, which we will develop below.


In the specific operative period, children have the ability to group simultaneously flexibly and using different types of comparisons , objects in hierarchies of classes and subclasses -general groups and more specific groups- . They can create the grouping of similar objects in a class, so they will have to extract the common element and combine the parts of the whole.


Children in the specific operative period present a general plan of organization. Serialization is the ability to put things in order based on quantity or magnitude. They can order or relate, group objects in an order from least to greatest or vice versa. Although seriation may begin to appear late in the pre-operative period , it is one of the main characteristics of the specific operative period.


 Children of the concrete operative period present the ability to understand when the amount of something remains constant in different situations despite appearance, they understand the relationships between distance, time and speed; and they begin to understand their family tree. They can take into account two aspects of something simultaneously. Coordinate form and quantity, considering them simultaneously and therefore preserve their appearance of quantity even if the form (substance, weight, volume) varies. When they manage to conserve lengths, they understand that no matter how much an object is rolled or folded, it will continue to maintain its length; for example, they understand that if a rope is wound it will continue to have the same length as if it is extended, aligned.

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Piaget understood that the ability to conserve depended on two fundamental cognitive abilities, one of which is cognitive decentration.

Decentration is the ability to pay attention to multiple attributes of an object or situation instead of attending to a single attribute of said object or situation. In this stage there is an action of transformation, a decentration from the point of view of representation and a development of short-term memory skills .


A fundamental characteristic of this period is the reversibility of knowledge , the ability to think about the steps of a process in any order.

Reversibility is the second cognitive ability that helps conservation develop. This ability makes the child understand that he can lose his mind, take distance from the object of knowledge; the child can perform 12 + 3 = 15 and 15-12 = 3. It is a capacity that is developed in children to allow their retention of consciousness about a series of events and helps them develop the ability to reverse and see how something transformed could be restored to its initial state.

Spatial reasoning

Children at this stage begin to master spatial components, perspective, and distances. They begin to appreciate that differences in distances interfere with the perception of an object, and that perceptioneach person is unique and depends on various factors; For example, they know that if an object is far away it will tend to look smaller than the one that is close, but they understand that this difference in sizes is directly related to the difference in distances; therefore, they can understand that if a person is closer to an object, or if they are facing or to the side, they will see it differently from them. Thanks to this ability acquired in the specific operative period, children of school age can produce realistic and accurate maps, either drawn on paper or mentally.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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