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Egocentric Speech: Piaget & Vygotsky

Egocentric Speech: Piaget & Vygotsky
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  • 0:01 Definition
  • 1:13 Piaget's View
  • 2:08 Vygotsky's View
  • 2:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jade Mazarin

Jade is a board certified Christian counselor with an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a certification in Natural Health. She is also a freelance writer on emotional health and spirituality.

In this lesson, we define egocentric speech and take a look at its role in child development. We also compare Piaget and Vygotsky's viewpoints on egocentric speech.

Definition

According to the developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, children between the ages of three and five go through a stage called egocentrism. The term egocentrism refers to a child's inability to understand another person's point of view; in other words, he or she believes that other children feel, think, and experience life as they do. In many cases, children also take part in egocentric speech. Egocentric speech involves a child talking to him or herself for self-guidance, usually through an activity.

For example, a four-year-old girl may say things aloud when playing on her own or explain what she is doing, as if she was talking to someone. If playing with a doll, she might say something like: 'Now I am going to take you to the table.' If stacking blocks, the four-year-old may say: 'See, I'm putting one block on this one.'

Both Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist and the father of cultural-historical psychology, had similar ideas about the cognitive and social development of children. However, when it came to egocentric speech in children, they had very different views.

Piaget's View

Piaget was the first in his field to coin the term 'egocentric speech' in relation to the egocentric stage of child development, which he shared in his 1923 book, The Language and Thought of the Child. In Piaget's opinion, children weren't born with the ability to relate to others, but instead focused solely on themselves.

Piaget believed that when children talked to themselves, they did it for self-centered purposes and without taking others and their thoughts into consideration. According to Piaget, because children don't really communicate with peers, they resort to talking to themselves. As described by Piaget, egocentric speech is associated with immaturity, a sign that a child is at the point in his or her development where he or she has not yet learned how to interact with others. Therefore, the tendency towards egocentric speech would fade away as the child increased in maturity.

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