skip to main content skip to footer

Dialectic Operations: The Final Period of Cognitive Development

Riegel, Klaus F.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Graduate Record Examinations Board, Adults, Cognitive Development, Developmental Psychology, Piaget, Jean


Arguments for an extension of Piaget's theory of cognitive development have been derived from philosophical and historical considerations of modern natural science. Implicit contradictions, which characterize these sciences as well as common thought, can be systematically apprehended only through a dialectic reinterpretation. The dialectic basis of Piaget's theory is expressed in his assimilationaccom paradigm, but development is interpreted as a continuing alienation from this basis, culminating in formal operations. Although Piaget's interpretations capture a rich variety of performance during childhood they fail to represent adequately the thought and emotions of mature and creative persons. For interpretations of adulthood and aging, a return to the dialectic basis is necessary. Such a reorganization can proceed from any of the four major levels of development. It introduces intra- and interindividual variations into Piaget's theory. Individuals may operate either simultaneously or in short succession at different cognitive levels. The ceaseless striving toward formal operations becomes inappropriate and ineffective for the level of dialectic maturity. (Author/DP) (40pp.)

Read More