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Developmental Psychology: Cognitive development · Development of the self · Emotional development · Language development · Moral development · Perceptual development · Personality development · Psychosocial development · Social development · Developmental measures
The formal operational stage is the fourth and final of the periods of cognitive development in Piaget's theory. This stage, which follows the Concrete Operational stage, commences at around 11 years of age (puberty) and continues into adulthood.
In this stage, individuals move beyond concrete experiences and begin to think abstractly, reason logically and draw conclusions from the information available, as well as apply all these processes to hypothetical situations. The abstract quality of the adolescent's thought at the formal operational level is evident in the adolescent's verbal problem solving ability. The logical quality of the adolescent's thought is when children are more likely to solve problems in a trial-and-error fashion. Adolescents begin to think more as a scientist thinks, devising plans to solve problems and systematically testing solutions. They use hypothetical-deductive reasoning, which means that they develop hypotheses or best guesses, and systematically deduce, or conclude, which is the best path to follow in solving the problem. During this stage the young adult is able to understand such things as love, "shades of gray", logical proofs and values. During this stage the young adult begins to entertain possibilities for the future and is fascinated with what they can be. Adolescents are changing cognitively also by the way that they think about social matters.
Adolescent Egocentrism governs the way that adolescents think about social matters and is the heightened self-consciousness in them as they are which is reflected in their sense of personal uniqueness and invincibility. Adolescent egocentrism can be dissected into two types of social thinking, imaginary audience that involves attention getting behavior, and personal fable which involves an adolescent's sense of personal uniqueness and invincibility.