Difference between Bruner and Piaget’s Theories of Cognitive Development

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is the emergence of thinking and understanding ability. It refers to the way individuals think, explore, and observe the things around them. Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner are considered to be the two most renowned educational psychologists who have hugely contributed to the field of cognitive psychology.

Definition of Cognitive Development

According to Jean Piaget,

“Cognitive development is a progressive reorganization of mental processes as a result of biological maturation and environmental experience.”

Jerome Bruner researched the cognitive development of children and identified three stages of representation namely, the enactive stage, the iconic stage, and the symbolic representation stage.

Difference between Bruner and Piaget’s Theories of Cognitive Development

The main differences between Bruner and Piaget’s theories of cognitive development are as follows:

  1. According to Piaget’s theory, cognitive development takes place in a series of stages whereas in Bruner’s theory, cognitive development is a continuous process.
  2. Piaget’s theory suggests that language is a consequence of cognitive development whereas Bruner’s theory asserts that language is a cause of cognitive development.
  3. Piaget’s theory puts little emphasis on socio-cultural context whereas Bruner’s theory puts a lot of emphasis on socio-cultural context believing that it influences one’s intellectual development.
  4. As opposed to Bruner’s three stages, Piaget’s theory has four stages namely, sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operational stage, and formal operational stage.
  5. Bruner’s theory has three representation stages namely the enactive stage, iconic stage, and symbolic stage as opposed to Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development.
  6. According to Piaget’s theory, his four stages of development end at childhood whereas Bruner’s three stages of development occur for a lifetime.
  7. Bruner disagrees with Piaget’s view of development occurring in four stages and believes that it continues till adulthood and throughout life.


These are the major differences between Piaget’s cognitive development theory and Bruner’s intellectual development theory.

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