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Introduction to child psychology
Introduction to child psychology

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2.2 Development is determined by environmental factors: Vygotsky

Piaget set the tone for many decades of research but his theory has also received a great deal of criticism. Many believe that Piaget ignored the huge influence that society and culture have in shaping a child’s development. At a similar time, another researcher named Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) had come to similar conclusions as Piaget about children’s development, in thinking that children learned about the world through interaction with it. However, where Piaget felt that children moved naturally through different stages of development, based on biological predispositions and their own individual interactions with the world, Vygotsky claimed that adult or peer intervention was a much more important contributor to the developmental process. Vygotsky concentrated more on children’s immediate social and cultural environment and their interactions with adults and peers. He argued that cognitive development occurred first through children’s immediate social interactions, and then moved to the individual level as they began to internalise their learning. While Piaget saw the child as actively discovering the world through individual interactions with it, Vygotsky saw the child as more of an apprentice, learning through a social environment of others who had more experience and were sensitive to the child’s needs and abilities.

Figure 4 Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky, Soviet psychologist; Vygotsky was the founder of cultural-historical psychology