Ecologically Valid Stages of Development
I believe it was Nietzsche who said "Piaget is dead." Since his death in 1980, Hermann von Piaget's work has not been updated to fit today's modern lifestyles. In his time, children worked in mines and frequently appeared in Charles Dickens novels for very little pay. During that era, Piaget developed a framework explaining the developmental stages of children. According to his theory, children went through the following stages: Birth to 2 years - Sensorimotor 2 to 7 - Tadpole 7 to 12 - Larvae 12 to 15 - Rebellion Each of these stages is characterized by specific behaviors and deficits in reasoning. Unfortunately, in the years since Piaget conducted his important work the world has changed, leaving his theories wanting. In response, a new movement, the cyber-postmodernistical-neo-classico-occipito-Piagetian school, has developed a set of ecologically valid measures of development. Below you will find a brief description of some of these tests. *Object Permanence Until approximately age 4, children don't fully comprehend the physical nature of the body. However, there is a sudden change at this point. A very simple test to determine whether a child has passed this stage is the Got Your Nose Test-Revised (GYNT-R) (pronounced "giant r"). In this test, an uncle or grandparent places two fingers around the child's nose, pulls away quickly, while inserting his (most experimenters are male) thumb through the two fingers while shouting "I've got your nose." By measuring the number of minutes the child cries, one can determine his/her progress through this stage. (Note, if the child does become distressed, it is vitally important that the experimenter NOT pretend to "eat" the child's stolen nose, but rather that he return it to its rightful place). A slightly different version of this test involves magically finding a quarter in a child's ear. *Appliance Sentience Young children, until about age 6, ascribe consciousness and volition to household appliances. In order to test whether a child believes that appliances are sentient, an experimenter provides the child with a grilled cheese sandwich (American cheese on white bread), leaving the child alone in close proximity to a video cassette recorder (note: this is a good use for old Betamax devices). If, within 10 minutes the child has not "fed" the appliance the sandwich, the child is judged to have passed this developmental milestone. *Socio-Affiliative Development There are a number of ways to test a child's socialization. However, these tests differ based on the child's gender. For boys, one of the most straightforward test is the Icky Girl Quotient (IGQ) which is assessed by pointing out a little girl to a boy, and calling her his "girlfriend" and measuring the extent to which he denies this, insisting that a) girls are icky, or b) girls have cooties. After such a test, it is advised to give the child a "cootie shot" to prevent psychological trauma. Girls can be assessed by measuring their reaction to the immaturity of their male peers. Until about age 12, girls will be irritated by the childish antics of boys. After age 12 however, although the boys will continue to behave identically until age 56, girls will respond to such behavior with resigned disappointment. In addition, the Brady Preference Scale can be used to measure the same construct. A child's favorite character from the Brady Bunch television series will change with age. Early on, children will favor the youngest cast member of their sex (boys: Bobby, Girls: Cindy). However, at age 8, preference will move to the oldest child of the same sex (boys: Greg, Girls: Marsha). At age 12 a tachistiscopic exchange will occur, with boys preferring Marsha and Girls swooning after Greg. *Some Additional Stages -The Marshmallow Curve: If one plots the marshmallow content of breakfast cereal over the first 20 years of life, one sees a general decline beginning at age 3, asymptoting at age 10 and remaining constant until a slight upswing at age 18 which appears to be associated with moving away from home. -Sleep Preference: At the onset of the Graduate School Stage, sleep becomes something that the child desires rather than avoids. -Birthday appeal: Even controlling for number of presents, when a child reaches age 28 they stop looking forward to upcoming birthdays and begin to dread them.