Formal Operations

Formal Operations

In this article, we’ll describe “Formal Operations”, Piaget’s Research, Deductive logic, abstract thought, problem-solving, hypothetical-deductive reasoning, current observations, and critical evaluation.

FORMAL OPERATIONS:

At the approximate age of 12 years, The Formal Operational stage begins and it lasts into adulthood. When adolescents enter this stage, they gain the ability to think in an abstract manner and can manipulate ideas in their heads, without any dependence on concrete manipulation.

Formal Operations

What is the Formal Operational Stage?

In Jean Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development, the operational stage is the fourth and final stage and it begins at the beginning of adolescence that is the approximate age of 12 till he reaches adulthood.

According to the theory, at this point in development, the thinking of the adolescent becomes much more sophisticated and advanced. They can think about abstract and theoretical concepts and they use logic for creative solutions to problems. Skills such as logical thoughts, reasoning, and systematic planning are gained during this stage.

Formal Operations

PIAGET’S RESEARCH:

Formal Operational thought was tested in a few different ways and the two better-known tests explored are-

  • Conceptualizing Balance:

There was a task in which children from different ages were involved and they had to balance a scale by hooking weights on each end. To balance the scale, the children needed to understand the basic that both the heaviness of the weights and distance from the center was important.

Younger children between the ages of 3 and 5 were unable to complete the task because they did not understand the concept of balance. Seven-year-old children knew that they can adjust the scale by placing weights on each end, but failed miserably in understanding that where to put the weights. 10-year-old children considered the location and weight correctly but had to do trial and error before coming to the conclusion.

The children aged 13 were able to use their logic to form a hypothesis about where to place the weights to balance the scale and then complete the task.

  • The Abstraction of Ideas:

Piaget did another experiment on formal operational thought and asked children to imagine where they would want to place a third eye if they had one. Younger children said in the middle of the forehead, older children had a variety of ideas like in the middle of one’s hand to be able to look around corners, at the back of one’s head to be able to see what is happening at the back. Creative ideas represented the use of abstract and hypothetical thinking and both are important indicators of formal operational thought.

Formal Operations

DEDUCTIVE LOGIC:

According to Piaget, deductive reasoning is necessary during the formal operational stage. Deductive logic requires the ability to determine a particular outcome. Science and Maths often require this type of thinking about hypothetical situations and concepts.

ABSTRACT THOUGHT:

The ability of abstract thinking emerges during the formal operational stage only before that the children have the ability to think concretely and specifically. At this stage, instead of relying solely on previous experiences, children begin to consider possible outcomes and possible consequences of actions. Also, this type of thinking is very important in long-term planning.

Formal Operations

PROBLEM-SOLVING:

The ability to systematical and logical problem-solving skills are developed in the formal operational stage, in earlier stages, children used trial and error to solve their problems. Children in this stage are often able to plan quickly an organized approach to solving a problem.

HYPOTHETICAL-DEDUCTIVE REASONING:

According to Piaget, “hypothetical-deductive reasoning” was essential at this stage of intellectual development as at this point, adolescents are capable of thinking about abstract and hypothetical ideas. They often ponder “what-if” type situations and questions and have the ability to think about multiple solutions or possible outcomes.

At earlier stages, children are usually particular in their thoughts, but in this stage, they start abstract thinking. As children gain greater awareness and understanding, they develop what metacognition is, or the ability to think about their thoughts as well as the ideas of others.

Formal Operations

CURRENT OBSERVATIONS:

From psychologists to psychiatrists, everybody thinks that the formal operational thinker has the ability to consider many different solutions to a problem before acting upon it. The children or adolescents who gain this ability has increased efficiency in solving a problem by thinking more rationally and abstractly.

In the formal operational stage, actual objects are no longer required and mental operations can be undertaken ‘in the head’ using abstract terms. In this age, children are able to answer questions that need abstract thinking and reasoning.

CRITICAL EVALUATION:

Psychologists and other researches have found that children can not complete the abstract and reasoning task until they are older. IN 1979, Robert Siegler gave children a balance beam task in which some discs were placed on either side of the center of balance. The researcher moved the discs along the beam and each time was asking the child to predict h=which way the balance would go. He studied the answers given by the children above the age of 5 years, and concluded that they apply rules which develop in the same sequence as, and thus reflect Piaget’s findings. He concluded that children’s cognitive development is based on acquiring and using rules in increasingly more complex situations, rather than in stages.

Formal Operations

CONCLUSION:

In this article, we’ve described “Formal Operations”, Piaget’s Research, Deductive logic, abstract thought, problem-solving, hypothetical-deductive reasoning, current observations, and critical evaluation. Please feel free to leave a comment or a suggestion, we appreciate your time.

FAQ:

What is the formal operational stage?

In Jean Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development, the operational stage is the fourth and final stage and it begins at the beginning of adolescence that is the approximate age of 12 till he reaches adulthood

What does formal operational thinking mean?

Formal operational thinking means the thinking of the adolescent becomes much more sophisticated and advanced. They can think about abstract and theoretical concepts and they use logic for creative solutions to problems. Skills such as logical thoughts, reasoning, and systematic planning are gained during this stage.

What are Piaget’s formal operations?

Piaget’s Formal Operations are that when adolescents enter this stage, they gain the ability to think in an abstract manner and can manipulate ideas in their heads, without any dependence on concrete manipulation.

Does everyone reach the formal operational stage?

The formal operational stage of cognitive development starts from approximately 12 years of age to adulthood, although not everyone does reach this stage.

What occurs during Piaget’s formal operational stage?

At the approximate age of 12 years, The Formal Operational stage begins and it lasts into adulthood. When adolescents enter this stage, they gain the ability to think in an abstract manner and can manipulate ideas in their heads, without any dependence on concrete manipulation.

CITATIONS:

verywellmind.com

simplypsychology.org

Formal Operations

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.