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Preoperatory thought is a term applied by Piaget as a general label for the cognitive principles underpinning the preoperatory stages in his theory of cognitive development.

These stages follow the sensorimotor stage and are first identified with the development of object permanence and end with the emergence of concrete operations, the start of operatory thought.

Preoperative thought is characterized by intuition, a dependence on the perceptual features of the world, and the lack of logical thinking. During this stage some symbolic representational thought may take place.


  • Reber, A.S & Reber, E.S. (2001). Dictionary of Psychology. London. Penguin.

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