Piaget in the United States, 1925-1971


In the 20th century, U. S. psychologists’ reception of Jean Piaget’s work interwove with many social and intellectual events that brought Piaget to prominence in social sciences. This chapter examines this reception chronologically from his first introduction in 1925 to the era of “Piaget rediscovered,” ending in 1971 when he became a paramount figure in developmental psychology and education. I will divide this historical review into three periods: the early 1920s to 1939, 1940 to 1955, and 1956 to 1971. Following Flavell (1963, p. 1), the phrase, “Piaget’s work” stands for Piaget, his collaborators and assistants as a whole. Additionally, because the translations of Piaget’s early books in psychology were first made available in England, and British psychologists’ evaluation of Piaget’s work exerted an influence on U. S. psychologists, some early British psychologists’ views will be included. Although the discourse about Piaget’s work has been an international phenomenon that transcended ideological barriers and cultural boundaries, the focus of this chapter is on the connection between Piaget’s work and social and intellectual events in the United States. This focus leads us to consider the theory of social institution design in developmental psychology (White, 2003a) that will be discussed in the conclusion.

Publication Title

The Cambridge Companion to Piaget