Cognitive Disequilibrium

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#1 Apr 4 - 4PM
Kelly's picture

Cognitive Disequilibrium

This was my chapter review homework for my developmental psych class. It's similar to the idea of cognitive dissonance. I got an A :) Hope you guys find this helpful in how it can relate to the confusion we experience when the narc shows his true face.

"According to Piaget’s theory, what happens when a person experiences cognitive disequilibrium"? Give an example.

Jean Piaget, a Swiss scientist who was trained in biology, developed the Cognitive Theory. He emphasized the structure and development of the thought process, the central thesis being, how people think changes with time and experience and that thought process always affect behavior. He believed that intellectual advancement occurs because humans seek cognitive equilibrium, which is a state of mental balance. It is most easily achieved through assimilation, a process of interpreting new experiences by referencing preexisting ideas.

When a person is experiencing cognitive disequilibrium, a person is confused because a new experience is jarring and incomprehensible. A person may choose to adapt to this new experience by assimilating or accommodating. Through accommodation, old ideas are restructured to include new ideas in order to achieve cognitive equilibrium.

An example of this would be a mother surprising her child by telling him that she is taking scuba diving lessons whereas, the child never knew his mother to be interested in water sports. Now his idea of his mother needs to incorporate scuba diving. If the child chose to assimilate instead, he would simply deny that she is taking on scuba diving.

Accommodation requires more mental energy than assimilation, but it ultimately leads to cognitive growth. According to Piaget’s theory, intellectual growth is an active response to clashing ideas and challenging experiences. Cognitive disequilibrium is an inevitable experience for every developing person. It would be interesting to learn why a person would choose to assimilate rather than accommodate.