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Schema Cognitive

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Introduction to Schema Cognitive

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Cognitive schemas, or mental representations, are discussed in Jean Piaget schema theory of cognitive growth.

Cognitive Schema Definition - A schema is a mental structure that serves as a framework for organising information about individuals, locations, things, and events. Schemas aid in the organisation of people's understanding of the environment and the comprehension of new ideas. Although these mental shortcuts can help us make sense of the massive amounts of data we experience on a daily basis, they can also limit our thinking and lead to stereotypes.


Cognitive Schema Theory -  Cognitive Schema theory is a subfield of cognitive science that studies how the brain organises information. A schema is a logically ordered set of facts about a topic or case. It is founded on prior knowledge and is consulted to aid current comprehension or intervention.


Historical Context of Piaget Schemas

  • In the second half of the twentieth century, psychologists started to place a greater emphasis on human cognition rather than behaviourism.

  • The widespread use of computers influenced ideas about how we store and use knowledge in our brains. Many cognitive models were primarily focused on how computers function.

  • In the last four decades, cognitive science has changed its focus from small-scale information structures, such as encoding words and basic concepts, to large-scale knowledge structures and their interactions.

Piaget Schemas

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) is credited for being the first to develop a schema-based cognitive development theory.

According to Jean Piaget Schema -

  • New data is applied to or assimilated into existing schemas.

  • New knowledge that is difficult to process causes cognitive dissonance.

  • Schemas are compelled to adapt to this new material.

  • Cognitive development is influenced by three factors: biological development, social development, psychological development. Interaction with the natural world and things, and advances in stages interactivity with other people.

Piaget Schema Theory

According to Jean Piaget schema theory of cognitive growth, children's intelligence evolves over time. A child's cognitive development entails more than just learning information; the child must also create or build a conceptual model of the world.

Children go through a series of phases as their cognitive growth is influenced by their natural abilities and external events. The phases of Piaget's development are as follows:

  1. Sensorimotor stage: Birth to 18-24 months

  2. Preoperational stage: 2 to 7 years

  3. Concrete operational stage: 7 to 11 years

  4. Formal operational stage: Ages 12 and up

The Sensorimotor Stage (Birth to 2 years)

Major Characteristics and Developmental Changes:

  • The baby learns about the world by using its senses and acting on it (moving around and exploring its environment).

  • A variety of cognitive abilities evolve during the sensorimotor stage. Item permanence, self-recognition, deferred imitation, and representational play are among them.

  • They have to do with the development of the general symbolic purpose, or the ability to mentally represent the universe.

  • Around the age of eight months, the child will realise the permanence of objects, that they will continue to exist even though they are not visible, and will look for them when they vanish.

The Preoperational Stage( 2 to 7 years) 

Major Characteristics and Developmental Changes:

  • Via their senses and behaviour, the child learns about the world (moving around and exploring its environment).

  • Several cognitive abilities improve during the sensorimotor level. Item permanence, self-recognition, delayed imitation, and representational play is examples of these.

  • They have to do with the development of the general symbolic purpose, or the ability to mentally represent the universe.

  • Around the age of eight months, the child will realize the permanence of objects and that they will continue to exist even though they are not visible, and will look for them when they vanish.

The Concrete Operational Stage (7 to 11 years)

Major Characteristics and Developmental Changes:

  • Children begin to think critically about specific events during this time.

  • Children begin to grasp the principle of conservation or the idea that although things change in appearance, certain properties remain constant.

  • Children will mentally reverse things at this age (e.g. picture a ball of plasticine returning to its original shape).

  • Children become less egocentric at this age and begin to consider what other people might think and feel.

The Formal Operational Stage (12 years and above)

Major Characteristics and Developmental Changes:

  • Formal operations are performed on concepts, while concrete operations are performed on objects. Physical and perceptual restrictions are completely removed from formal organizational thinking.

  • Adolescents may interact with abstract concepts at this age (e.g. no longer needing to think about slicing up cakes or sharing sweets to understand division and fractions).

  • They will follow an argument's structure without having to think about concrete instances.

  • Adolescents are capable of dealing with hypothetical problems that have a variety of solutions. For example, if you were asked, "What would happen if money was abolished in one hour?" They could ponder a plethora of potential outcomes.

Type of Schema Cognitive

Though Piaget was interested in child growth, schemas are something that everyone has and that shape and change throughout their lives. For example, most people in developed countries have a mental model of what a car is. Subcategories for various types of vehicles, such as small cars, sedans, and sports cars, can be included in your overall schema for a vehicle.


Other forms of schemas that people often have are social schema, person schema, self-schema etc.

  1. Object schema assists us in comprehending and interpreting inanimate objects, such as what they are and how they work. We have a schema about what a door is and how to use it, for example. Sliding doors, panel doors, and revolving doors are examples of subcategories in our door schema.

  2. Person schema were created to assist us in comprehending particular individuals. One's schema for their significant other, for example, will include the individual's appearance, behaviour, likes and dislikes, and personality traits.

  3. Social schema aids in our understanding of how to act in various social situations If a person plans to see a movie, for example, their movie schema gives them a general idea of the type of social situation they should expect when they go to the theatre.

  4. Self-schema aid in our self-awareness. They concentrate on what we already know about who we are, who we have been in the past, and who we might become in the future.

  5. Event schema also known as scripts describe the expected sequence of actions and behaviours during a specific event. When anyone goes to the movies, they anticipate going to the theatre, purchasing a ticket, choosing a seat, turning off their phone, watching the film, and then leaving the theatre.

  6. Role schema includes our expectations about how someone in a particular social position would act. A waiter, for example, should be friendly and wet. Although not all waiters can behave in this manner, our schema establishes our expectations of each waiter with whom we associate.

Modification of Schema

Schemas can be changed, as shown by the kid who changed their dog schema after seeing a tiger. Piaget proposed that we develop mentally by adapting our schemas in response to new knowledge from the outside world. 

Schemas Can be Tweaked Using the Following Methods:

Assimilation - The method of using our existing schemas to gain a better understanding of something new

Accommodation - Since new knowledge does not fit into existing schemas, the process of modifying an existing schema or developing a new one is called schema change.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1.  What are the Three Types of Schema?

Ans: Linguistic schema, material schema, and formal schema are the three types of schema. Linguistic schema refers to readers' previous linguistic experience, such as phonetics, grammar, and vocabulary, as defined by conventional standards.

Q2. How Does Schema Affect Behaviour?

Ans: What you pay attention to, how you perceive situations, and how you make sense of unclear situations may all be influenced by schemas. You unconsciously pay attention to information that supports your schema and overlook or minimise information that contradicts it once you have one.

Q3. What is a Script Schema?

Ans: A schema is a memory structure that already exists. When it comes to more dynamic schemata, they're more often referred to as scripts. A script is an information framework based on event sequences that already exists. We create accounts of what happened using scripts.