According to Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, egocentrism is the tendency of children to cognize their environment only in terms of their own point of view. Piaget theorized that the degree of egocentrism is directly related to the child's level of cognitive development. In the infant stage (birth to age two) children are just learning to recognize and interact with the environment and are thus completely egocentric. In the toddler and preschool stages (ages two to six) children are able to represent the world to themselves in symbols and images but are unable to distinguish their point of view from that of others. In the middle childhood stage (ages six to twelve) children develop greater cognitive abilities and therefore have declining levels of egocentrism and are able to visualize a situation from another's point of view. In the adolescent stage (ages twelve to nineteen) egocentrism further declines as individuals develop the ability for fully abstract thought and are thus able to analyze a situation from many perspectives.
Piaget, Jean. The Construction of Reality in the Child. New York: Basic Books, 1954.
Richard J. Castillo
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