Part One Developmental Psychology: Essay One Do babies have a good conceptual understanding of the properties of objects?

There are certain properties of objects that must be understood in order to have a good conceptual understanding of the world around us. Adults understand that objects continue to exist even when they are occluded by another nearer object. By adulthood we understand the concept that a wide object cannot fit into a narrow container and that an object will fall when it is released in midair. Pioneering work on babies’ conceptual understanding of the properties of objects was carried out by Jean Piaget (1954). He studied infants’ expectations of objects and concluded that infants possess a very small amount of physical knowledge. This essay will assess Piaget’s claim by examining babies’ ability to comprehend occlusion, solidity of objects and gravity and questioning the possibility that Piaget may have underestimated the perceptual comprehension of babies. Piaget explains young children’s increase in understanding of the properties of the world around them through his theory of cognitive development where he presents a series of stages that young children go through to enable them to improve their logical abilities. Newborns to two year olds are categorised into the sensorimotor stage. Sensorimotor intelligence, according to Piaget, is based on the principle that cognitive development occurs through a process of construction in which individuals develop more complex knowledge of the world through their actions in it. While Piaget argued that babies have a very poor conceptual understanding of the properties of the world, and more specifically objects in the world, he argued that they are equipped with particular ways of functioning in their environment which allow them to construct this understanding. For more, visit


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