Similarities between Vygotsky and Piaget Theories

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What is Piaget Theory?

Jean Piaget was a Swiss biologist turned psychologist who discovered the first systematic theory of cognitive development. This theory focuses on the organisation of intelligence and how it changes as children grow. Piaget argued that early language is egocentric and only becomes socialised with cognitive development. He argued that language and communication depends solely on the development of thinking. According to this theory people organize their experiences into schemes that help them to make senses of their equilibrium. New experiences can easily be assimilated if they can be explained with existing schemes.

Piaget believed that intelligence came from action. He believed that children learn through interacting with their surroundings and that learning takes place after development. Piaget theory of cognitive development consists of four phases which are normally based on experience and maturation.

Similarities between Vygotsky and Piaget Theories

What are the Characteristics of Piaget’s theory?

  • Has the element of operation in which according to Piaget it’s a higher order of mental state that is not present at birth but is acquired during middle childhood.
  • It is characterised with the element of reversibility which is an understanding in which the child is capable of reversing their thoughts processes back to where they originally started.
  • Is characterised with the process of assimilation whereby it is the process of adaptation that involves taking in of new information into our previously existing schema.
  • Has process of invariant functions whereby it is a form of cognitive process that does not change with maturation as compared to cognitive structures.
  • Has an element of equilibration whereby Piaget understood that all children try to balance between assimilation and accommodation referable as equilibration.

What is Vygotsky Theory?

Vygotsky described cognitive development as the interaction between social interaction, language, and culture. He believed that learning happens before development occurs and that children learn easily because of history and symbolism. He focused more on culture and social interactions as compared to Piaget. He believed that children value input from their surroundings and from others. He believed Social interaction and language provides the mechanism and tools that help children develop understandings and that they wouldn’t be able to acquire on their own and advance their abilities. Vygotsky’s theory is guided on six major assumptions.

Similarities between Vygotsky and Piaget Theories-1

What are the Characteristics of Vygotsky’s Theory?

  • This theory contains the concept of scaffolding which is when an adult provides support to a child; they will adjust the amount of help they give depending on their progress.
  • It emphasised on the critical role played by the social world in facilitating the child’s development.
  • He described zone of proximal development in which there are two levels of attaining this i.e. the present level of development and the potential level of development.
  • The gap between those two levels is what Vygotsky described as the zone of proximal development.
  • It’s characterised with egocentrism and inner speech.
  • It’s characterised with internalization of monologues.

Similarities between Piaget and Vygotsky theory

  1. They both share a developmental perspective which is essential for an understanding of psychological phenomena and process namely those relatively more elaborate or complex as in the case of Piaget’s mental operations and Vygotsky’s symbolic operations.
  2. Piaget and Vygotsky both put a greater emphasis on the importance of action on the origin of diverse forms of intelligence, and on all functions of consciousness.
  3. Both Vygotsky and Piaget stress on the primacy of processes of development, whether of external outcomes or exterior manifestations.
  4. Both Vygotsky and Piaget have put a greater emphasis on the qualitative or transformational changes, not on the quantitative or variation one.
  5. Both Vygotsky and Piaget share a dialectical approach, in that the psychological development involves a continuous interaction among distinct, but interdependent, functions or processes such as assimilation in Piaget’s theory and internalization in Vygotsky’s theory.
  6. They both share a non-reductionist view of human intelligence and consciousness.


  • Children develop more sophisticated ways of thinking as they grow older as a result of maturation, and learning and understanding is mainly concerned with concepts that each individual hold and what effort they put towards developing it.
  • Vygotsky’s approach gives out only a general outline of cognitive development in that it only put its emphasis on the social and cultural aspects of learning and cognition.
  • Internalising monologues and therefore becoming a verbal thinker is a stepping stone to higher levels of thinking.
  • There is a close link between the acquisition of language and the development of thinking.

Author: Victoria Jones

Victoria Jones has a degree in psychology from UK. She is an expert with over 4 years experience in writing and content strategy. She has written over 50 articles, some of which have been featured in local daily’s and magazines.

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