# 7 Concrete Operational Stage Examples (With Video)

Reviewed by Chris Drew (PhD)

This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

➡️ Video Lesson
➡️ Introduction

The concrete operational stage is the third stage in Piaget’s stages of cognitive development. From the ages of 7-12, children develop increasingly advanced reasoning. Their thinking becomes better organized, more logical and systematic.

In this stage, they are able to apply the rules of logic to physical objects, and representing those objects mentally becomes much easier.

However, children still struggle with abstract reasoning. The concrete operational stage serves as a transition between the preoperational and formal operational stages.

➡️ Study Card
➡️ What are Piaget’s Stages of Development?

## Piaget’s Stages

➡️ What is the Concrete Operational Stage?

The concrete operational stage is the third stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, occurring from about ages 7 to 11.

In this stage, children begin to think logically about concrete events. They gain a better understanding of the concept of conservation, realizing that quantity does not change even when its shape does.

Children also start to grasp the concepts of time, space, and quantity more accurately.

However, their thinking is still limited to concrete objects and events, and they struggle with abstract or hypothetical concepts.

## Concrete Operational Stage Examples

### 1. Seriation

Seriation refers to the child’s ability to arrange objects in sequence, such as from smallest to largest or hardest to softest.

As long as the child can see the physical objects, then they can perform this type of task without great difficulty, but will need to concentrate fully.

For instance, children will often place two or three of the objects side-by-side to compare before deciding which one should be next.

### 2. Reversibility

Children are able to mentally reverse a sequence of events that they have observed.

As the child’s ability to control their thinking becomes more advanced, they are able to take their mind through simple sequences in reverse.

This means that they can mentally represent the original condition they witnessed previously.

Reversibility is the mental operation that enables children to understand the concept of conservation.

### 3. Classification

The ability of children to classify objects based on a shared characteristic continues to advance during the concrete operational stage.

This means that children can categorize objects based on one characteristic, but then also create sub-categories within each.

So, shapes can be put into the same groups, and then further divided into additional groupings based on other attributes.

### 4. Transitivity

Being able to recognize relationships that exist between two or more concepts is called transitivity, or transitive inference.

For instance, if A > B, and that B > C, then it is logical to conclude that A > C.

This is the kind of logical thinking skill that Piaget considered essential to a child’s intellectual abilities. It is a key developmental milestone in the concrete operational stage.

### 5. Conservation

During the concrete operational stage children will develop the understanding of conservation; that the mass of an object doesn’t change as a function of its shape.

The age at which children understand conservation varies, depending on the type of task, the instructions given, and even cultural factors.

### 6. Decentration

Decentration refers to a child’s ability to examine two features of an object or situation. In part, this is a function of attentional control.

No longer will the most salient feature of an object dominate their thinking. A child can control what aspect of the object or situation they are thinking about.

Furthermore, decentration can lead to a child understanding that others may have a different point of view. Because their thinking is no longer completely dominated by their own thoughts, they are more likely to perceive the opinion of others.

### 7. Overcoming Egocentrism

During the concrete operational stage, children become far less egocentric as they develop a theory of mind. They are beginning to see situations from the perspective of others and consider their point of view.

This results in them being able to more easily identify why another person may be upset.

Understanding the causal factors involved in another person’s emotional state is the foundation for emotional intelligence and leads to fewer interpersonal conflicts.

## Conclusion

The concrete operational stage is primarily characterized by the advancement of a child’s ability to perform logical operations mentally. Although limited to mostly physical objects, children in this stage demonstrate several key milestones in their ability to think systematically.

For instance, they can mentally reverse the sequence of steps they have observed. This gives them an understanding of conservation and can be demonstrated in a variety of testing procedures.

In addition, children become less egocentric and are able to understand the perspective of others involving perceptions of physical objects.

More advanced cognitive skills include being able to classify objects according to two characteristics and eventually understanding class inclusion.

➡️ References

### References

Andreeva, A. (2018). The formation of the decentration ability at preschool age. International Conference on Psychology and Education, 26-37. 10.15405/epsbs.2018.11.02.4.

Donaldson, M. (1985). Children’s minds. Moscow, Russia: Pedagogika.

Elkonin, D. B. (1989). Selected psychological works (pp. 306-361). Moscow, Russia: Pedagogika.

Piaget, J. & Szeminska, A. (1952). The Child’s Conception of Number. Routledge & Kegan Paul: London.

Piaget, J. (1954). The child’s conception of number. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 18(1), 76.

Piaget, J. (1959). The language and thought of the child: Selected works vol. 5. Routledge, London.

Piaget, J. (1968). Quantification, conservation, and nativism. Science, 162, 976-979. Watanabe, N. (2017). Acquiring Piaget’s conservation concept of numbers, lengths, and liquids as ordinary play. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 7(1). 210-217. https://doi.org/10.5539/jedp.v7n1p210

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Dr. Cornell has worked in education for more than 20 years. His work has involved designing teacher certification for Trinity College in London and in-service training for state governments in the United States. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped businessmen and women open baby centers and kindergartens in 3 countries.

Website | + posts

This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.