Piaget’s Sensorimotor Stage

Piaget’s Sensorimotor Stage


There are four stages involved in Cognitive development in Jean Piaget’s theory. In this paper, I am addressing the Piaget’s sensorimotor stage which happens during the first two years of childhood’s growth. Normally, babies relate their surrounding environment with their bodies during this time (McLeod, 2015). I shall discuss the six substages involved in sensorimotor stage.

Sensorimotor Substages

Among the four-stages theory of Cognitive Development, sensorimotor is the first one. However, the sensorimotor stage involves six substages. These stages include internalization of schemes, coordination of secondary circular reactions, tertiary circular reactions, primary circular reactions, secondary circular reactions and Reflexive (McLeod, 2015).

Reflexive substage takes place during the early first month of development, and it is characterized by an automatic external stimuli response. The responses are enhanced by the five senses. For instance, feeling textures of the surrounding environment, symmetrical random movements and sucking are among examples of these responses.

Primary Circular reaction takes place in between 1 to 4 months. The stage is marked by actions coordination, establishing of simple habits, focused on needs of self and disappearing of reflexive actions. Among the behaviors include sucking on fingers and hands, repeating enjoyable actions and displaying dissatisfaction through crying.

The secondary circular reaction takes place between 4 to 8 months. The baby starts focusing on self, ability to handle objects, schematic idea developments, and direct imitation. Also, babies may further start sitting and playing with toys.

Coordination of secondary circular reactions takes place between 8 to 12 months. Physical causality, object-performance, goal-established activity and behaving intentionally is among the behaviors inclined to toddlers at this stage. Examples include seeking attention through crying, shaking toys, peek-a-boo playing and looking for hidden objects.

Between 12 to 18 months of development involves tertiary circular reactions. The young are usually involved in elaborating schemes, idea extending and combining, more complex scheme building, trial, and error, use of basic metabolism, expansion limitation and increased fine and motor skills. Examples include searching for objects in various locations, inserting shapes in their correct respective shapes, playing alone with dolls and watching older children play (McLeod, 2015).

The last sub-stage which takes place between 18-24 months is the internalization of schemes. The sub-stage is characterized by early categorization, complex schematic understanding, commencement of true thoughts, mental representation of reality and image internalization. Examples include child pretending to be father or mother during a play, involving imaginary friends and creatures in play, using simple language and words in idea conveying and anticipation of outcomes (McLeod, 2015).

Object Permanence

According to Piaget, objects exist while occurrences happen without being triggered by any individual in the sensorimotor stage. Usually, Piaget argued that mental forming of a representation of an occurrence is what led to the object performance (McLeod, 2015). It happened at the age when the child can still create an imagination of a scheme concerning the imagination of occurrence or characters.

Testing for Object Permanence

The presence of object performance in a toddler was tested by Piaget through first displaying a toy before removing or hiding it. For instance, Piaget would observe the child’s curiosity after hiding the toy under the blanket. It raised mixed reactions where some kids would become disappointed and confused while others would search for the toy. The children who searched for the toy had reached the object permanent development stage according to Piaget (McLeod, 2015).


According to various people Piaget’s theory has been criticized as they claim that it determines children’s abilities despite the theory still being popular and influential up to date. Infants of the age between 3-4 years would be able to believe in the occurrence of objects whether unheard or unseen according to more recent research on object performance (McLeod, 2015). According to researchers, factors such as lack of interest in the hidden objects or toys may make the children lack the coordination to look for the toys.



McLeod, S. A. (2015). Sensorimotor Stage. Retrieved from