Psych M.D. - Egocentrism


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Term: Egocentrism
Definition (Myers): In Piaget's theory, the inability of the preoperational child to take another's point of view.1
Definition (alternative): The tendency of children to cognize their environment only in terms of their point of view.₂
Contextual explanation:
According to Jean Piaget, young children are egocentric. Thus, they cannot perceive thing around them in another person's point of view. They can only think in terms of what they see. Piaget stated that egocentrism is, in fact, closely related to a child's level of cognitive development. As a child grows older, he/she will develop cognition and become more and more less egocentric. As a result, during the infant stage which is from birth to about age 2, the child will be completely egocentric.₂

Egocentrism is placed in the preoperational stage of Piaget's stages of cognitive development.₃ Most preoperational thinking is self-centered. An example of child egocentrism can be found in any ordinary kindergarten:

Mary: I'm going to paint the sun yellow.

Bob: My mom bakes me cookies.

Mary: The trees will be green.

Bob: I like cookies very much.

Mary: I want to color the sky blue!

Bob: I am hungry.

As you can see through this conversation of two kindergarten students, children are egocentric. Mary and Bob are talking about two totally irrelevant topics, based on the thoughts and points of views that they perceive individually. These types of dialogues exchanged are called "collective monologues".

An example proved egocentrism in children to be true (see video). A child was placed in front of a model of a mountain view. Across the child sat the child's doll. When the child was asked to describe what he/she sees, he/she responded with correctly. However, when the child was asked to describe what the doll might be seeing, the child said that the doll sees the same things that he/she sees. This clearly proves that children cannot think in another person's perspective.


Related terms and concepts:

Psych M.D. - Egocentrism - The Neuron

Psych M.D. - Egocentrism - The Neuron






Related websites:
Sources: insert WAPA style citations here
  1. Myers, D.G. (2003). Psychology. New York City: Worth Publishers.
  2. (2009). Egocentrism. JRank. Retrieved (2009, October 23) from http://social.jrank.org/pages/223/Egocentrism.html
  3. (n.d.). Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development. Retrieved from http://www.telacommunications.com/nutshell/stages.htm
  4. Whitmore, A. (2008, November 27). Egocentric Bias. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/rustychainsaw/3063250197/
  5. (2009). Attitude Mountain. Retrieved from http://procrasticast.com/2008/03/23/attitude-mountain/
  6. Heather, (2007, June 03). [Video Podcast]. Egocentrism. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OinqFgsIbh0
Edited by: Kathy
Date of last edit: 9/23/2009



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