From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Centration[edit | edit source]

Illustration of centration

Centration is a cognitive process that refers to the tendency of young children to focus on only one aspect of a situation while ignoring other relevant aspects. This concept was first introduced by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, who believed that centration is a characteristic of the preoperational stage of cognitive development.

Definition[edit | edit source]

Centration can be defined as the tendency to concentrate on a single, salient feature of an object or event, while disregarding other important features. This cognitive bias leads children to perceive the world in a limited and egocentric manner, as they are unable to consider multiple perspectives or dimensions simultaneously.

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Centration is characterized by several key features:

1. **Focus on one aspect**: Children who engage in centration tend to focus on one specific aspect of a situation, object, or event, while neglecting other relevant aspects. For example, a child may only focus on the height of a glass and ignore its width or volume.

2. **Inability to conserve**: Conservation refers to the understanding that certain properties of an object, such as its quantity or volume, remain the same despite changes in appearance. Children in the preoperational stage often struggle with conservation tasks due to their centration on one aspect. They are unable to consider the transformation or rearrangement of objects.

3. **Egocentrism**: Centration is closely related to egocentrism, which is the inability to take another person's perspective. Children who are centration-prone often struggle to understand that others may have different viewpoints or thoughts. They tend to assume that everyone sees the world in the same way they do.

Examples[edit | edit source]

To illustrate the concept of centration, consider the following examples:

1. **Water in different containers**: A child may believe that pouring water from a short, wide glass into a tall, narrow glass changes the amount of water, despite the fact that the quantity remains the same.

2. **Conservation of mass**: When presented with two identical balls of clay, a child may believe that one ball has more clay simply because it is flattened or elongated.

3. **Drawing perspective**: A child may draw a picture of a house with all the walls visible, even though in reality, only one side of the house is visible at a time.

Implications[edit | edit source]

Centration has important implications for children's cognitive development and learning. By understanding the limitations of centration, educators and parents can provide appropriate support and guidance to help children overcome this cognitive bias.

1. **Educational strategies**: Teachers can design activities and tasks that encourage children to consider multiple perspectives and dimensions. By providing opportunities for children to engage in hands-on experiences and problem-solving tasks, educators can help them develop more flexible thinking skills.

2. **Parental guidance**: Parents can engage in conversations with their children that promote perspective-taking and critical thinking. By asking open-ended questions and encouraging children to consider different viewpoints, parents can help children broaden their understanding of the world.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Centration is a cognitive process that is characteristic of the preoperational stage of cognitive development. It involves the tendency to focus on one aspect of a situation while disregarding other relevant aspects. By understanding the limitations of centration, educators and parents can support children in developing more flexible thinking skills and a broader understanding of the world around them.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD