According to the constructivist model of the psyche, also known as the Theory of cognitive development, proposed by the Swiss Jean Piaget, there are two fundamental concepts for the acquisition of knowledge in man, which are assimilation and accommodation.
- By assimilation means the integration of new information that can be acquired through experience, ie, incorporation into the psyche of external elements product life circumstances and the environment in which it develops. It becomes evident when human beings respond to new or unknown events by going to previous experiences as a reference, in order to find meaning.
- The accommodation, on the other hand, forces to alter the pre-existing schemes as a result of a newly acquired information or experience, because these are not useful to face the new or unknown situation, allowing to accumulate a new layer of experience.
- A child sees a zebra for the first time and mistakenly names it a horse, a more familiar animal to its order of experience.
- When we begin to learn a new language, we use the one we already use as a reference to “translate” everything into previously conceived mental schemas.
- An infant receives a bottle for the first time and immediately tries to suck it, as experience with the maternal nipple has prepared him to relate to the object (with almost everything, actually) in that way.
- A child plays with rubber balls until he receives a rag ball. The similar shapes of the ball will allow you to recognize it as such, despite discovering later its differences.
- The Darwinian grip: Babies hold everything that comes close to their hands since it is an evolutionary reflection incorporated into the very early psyche.
- The child learns the dog concept from illustrations of large dogs or perhaps a large dog at home. Later, he is confronted with a small dog and mistakenly thinks that it is another animal, such as a cat.
- The Rorschach psychological test, consisting of showing the patient a series of ink spots, goes to perspectives already assimilated as an exploratory form of the patient’s psyche: “What do you see here?”
- When the Spanish conquerors arrived in America, they described the New World in their chronicles based on the patterns already incorporated into their culture. This prevented them from seeing reality as it was since they expected it to be like theirs.
- An eleven-year-old boy has a structured family idea (father and mother), who is in check before his parents’ divorce, which subjects the idea to a crisis since it does not fit into his previous concepts.
- A person with low self-esteem can interpret, based on his precepts of himself, a congratulation for his work performance as a form of pity or aggression.
See also: Board games for kids
Examples of accommodation
- The same child who looks at the zebra for the first time, it seems to him that it is another animal, and the little one learns to distinguish it from the horses, incorporating new learning.
- When we have already learned a new language, its mental structures are in common use and we do not need to “translate” the thought into a previous language, but we can elaborate the thought directly in the new one.
- The same infant with the bottle eventually learns to hold it in order to suck it, something that it should not do with the mother’s womb, incorporating a difference to similar objects.
- The same child with the rag ball tries to bounce it and realizes that it does not react in the same way as the rubber ones. Its ball concept is expanded to accommodate the new distinction between similar objects.
- Despite the Darwinian grip, the baby will grow and learn to discriminate what to hold and what not to hold.
- The same child who has learned the idea of a dog as something big and confronts the small dog will learn by being corrected to accommodate the new possibility of dog within the greater category and to distinguish it from the category of cats.
- Scientific discovery often starts from ideas assimilated and accepted as true, but it can also force scientists to reorganize what they took for granted and to rethink previously learned content in the face of the discovery.
- Openness to foreign cultures involves accommodating diversity into broader, more democratic, and pluralistic world patterns, all of which pose a challenge to easy and preconceived ethnocentric structures.
- The same eleven-year-old boy from divorced parents will, over time, learn to accommodate more complex family ideas that will allow him to maintain the bond with his parents even though they are not together at the time.
- With psychotherapy and inner work, the person with low self-esteem will learn to discern the congratulations of the pity and will have to internally accommodate the social reality of his environment in a different way.
See also: Examples of Behaviorism in the Classroom