Assimilation according to Piaget
Assimilation is a term that refers to a part of the adaptation process initially proposed by Jean Piaget. Through assimilation, we incorporate new information or experiences into our existing ideas. Piaget assimilation example
The process is somewhat subjective because we tend to modify experience or information in some way to fit our pre-existing beliefs. Assimilation plays an important role in how we learn about the world around us. In early childhood, children are constantly assimilating new information and experiences to build their knowledge about the world.
However, this process does not stop as people age. As we come across new experiences and interpret them, people are constantly making small and large adjustments to their existing ideas about the world around them.
How does assimilation work?
Piaget believed that there are two basic ways of adapting to new experiences and information, assimilation is the easiest method because it does not require a great deal of adjustment.
Through this process, we add new information to our existing knowledge base, sometimes reinterpreting the new experiences to fit previously existing information. Piaget assimilation example
An example of assimilation Piaget assimilation example
Let’s imagine that your neighbors have a daughter that you have always considered sweet, polite and kind.
However, one day, he peeks out of his window and watches the girl perform a mischief. It seems something quite rude, something that would not be expected of her.
How is this new information interpreted?
By employing the assimilation process, the girl’s behavior would be discounted, believing that perhaps it is something that she witnessed from a classmate and that it is not to say that she is somewhat impolite. Piaget assimilation example
Therefore, you are not revising your concept of the girl, you are simply adding new information to your existing schemas . She is still a kind little girl, however, now you would know that she also has a mischievous side.
Using the second method described by Piaget, adaptation, the young woman’s behavior would cause us to re-evaluate our opinion of her.
This process is what Piaget called accommodation , in which old ideas are modified or even replaced based on new information.
Assimilation and accommodation work together as part of the learning process. Certain information is simply incorporated into our existing schemas through the process of assimilation while other information leads to the development of new schemas or total transformations of existing ideas through the process of accommodation. Piaget assimilation example
More examples of assimilation
- A college student learning how to use a new computer program
- A child sees a new type of dog that he has never seen before and immediately points to the animal and says, “Dog!”
- A chef learning a new cooking technique
- A computer programmer learns a new programming language
In each of the above examples, the individual is adding information to their existing schemas.
It must be remembered that if new experiences cause the person to completely alter or change their existing beliefs, then this process is known as accommodation. Piaget assimilation example