Centration ( A Comprehensive Guide)

The idea of centration was put forward by Jean Piaget who was a Swiss Psychologist. The ability of being able to be focused on one particular feature in a situation while ignoring other aspects of it.

Jean Piaget coined this term to refer to the capability of kinds to be particularly attentive by the one main feature of a thing, problem, situations etc while not giving attention to other features even if they are relevant.

In this article we discuss centration.

In 1941,Piaget provided a classical example of it through an experiment in.The Child’s Conception of Number.

In this experiment a kid is shown to be watching a lot objects which are put in a row in order and then by moving each object further close to each other and the this kid was questioned to tell about the number of objects whether it has increased, decreased or the number of objects placed in front of him are same.

Most kids tend to be focused about the admissible span of the lines without even considering their quantity and compactness or thinking about the fact that nothing is withdrawn or nothing is added to them thus concluding that the number of objects have decreased and there are less objects presented than before.

A system of cognitive development from which a kid tends to travel from centration to perceiving the world in a more objective sense is ca decentration. 

Jean Piaget stated that a common entity which is causal to centration and is responsible for the unsystematic thinking of a child during his preoperational stage is known as egocentrism.

Piaget was the pioneer of most of the research on centration and the researchers of the modern era are working to expand the idea of Piaget. 

Conservation Tasks

A lot of tasks were used by Piaget in order to test the capability of kids to think and reason scientifically, most of those tasks were designed to test conservation particularly. 

The idea of conservation states that the capability of a kid to understand that the size or quantity of an object will not be changed even if some adjustments are made in colour, shape, container or apparent size. 

There are numerous other tasks of conservation such as, conservation of volume, length, number and substance. 

One of the best known tasks which indicates the centration is the conservation of liquids.

In this task’s one version there are two glasses which are shown to a child, X1 and X2, and these glasses are filled with the same amount of liquid.

Then the kid is allowed to determine which either the amount of liquid is different or its is the same, in this task the kid every time finds it easy to tell the right answer.

In the next move, the liquid is then poured from a glass X2 to a glass Q, this glass is a little wider and lower.

It is again the turn of the child to determine whether the amount of liquid is the same as it is different now.

The child is likely to answer that the liquid is not anymore in the same amount at his preoperational stage, in any case whether the wider glass contains more liquid or even the taller glass contains more liquid.

When the kid is into his concrete operational stage of development he would still be able determine that the amount of liquid is unchanged.

In this experiment the idea of centration is clearly evident in the fact that a kid is paying attention to a particular side of the liquid which is either the width or height and is not able to conserve due to it.

When a child will reach his concrete operational stage of development he will be able to question the both dimensions at the same time and will also be able to understand that changing the dimension of one will cancel the changing in the dimension of another. 

During his experimentation on children about the conservation of numbers test, Piaget provided the kids with some eggs and put a row of egg cups in front of them, he placed these cups in a row in same size but the numbers of cups were different.

The kids were then asked to take the adequate amount of eggs to fill the egg cups, and after the kids made their attempt in doing so, the kids were amazed to know that there are a lot of eggs or there less number of eggs.

The idea of centration is again found here, where the kids only were attentive about the length of the row and did not consider the number of egg cups km every row.

Piaget conducted the extermination of conservation of  weight and length by conducting a similar task.

In this experiment Piaget showed the kids two balls of playdoh which were of the same size.

When he asked the kids to determine whether they were the same or not almost every kid gave that yes they were the same.

Followed by this, one of the balls was then rolled by the Piaget into a lengthy string and he then asked the same question from the kids to determine which string they think is bigger.

The kids who were more focused about the length of the playdoh which was shaped newly or the width of the old playdoh, and mostly responded that one or the other was bigger.

The kids who centred their focus on both dimensions i.e, length and width, they easily responded that both of the strings of playdoh were of the same size. 


Piaget was of the view that during every stage of development a deficiency in cognitive thinking can be named as the concept of egocentrism.

This means that egocentrism can be referred to as the disability of distinguishing the perspective of one’s own from the perspective of other people but it does not mean that the person is selfish or conceited. 

  During speaking , kids tend to be egocentric while looking at things from their own perspective.

For instance , a kid who is egocentric may wish his mother to purchase him toys on his birthday.

This can not be considered as an act of selfishness, as doing so.

He will be having a gift on his birthday. However, it may be such an act that he did not consider that his mother is not willing to buy him the toy he is asking for.

The kid will think that the mother is also having the same thoughts as of his and thus he demands for a toy as a gift on his birthday.

To attribute life with some physical objects is known as animism. The term animism is an idea which comes from egocentrism.

A kind will be thinking that all things work similar to as he does.

If a child remains egocentric he will not be able to understand the fact that every other person has his own private and personal experiences which differ from his experiences.

When it comes to moral reasoning, the kids will be regarding the rules from a specific point of view, as absolutes handed down from elders or authority figures.

Similar to a kid who is egocentric and sees objects from entirely a different and specific perspective, the kid who  does not succeed to conserve focus on a single side of the issue.

For instance when the water is put from a vessel to another vessel which is short and wide the kid will be focused on a single perspective which is the difference of height.

The kid will not be able to decenter his focus and start considering the other aspect of the situation at the same time.

Centration clearly is visible being a form of egocentrism relating to some particular tasks which involve reasoning scientifically.


As the idea of centration is a general inclination of a child in the domain of different tasks related to his cognitions, perseveration is centration in access on the other hand.

We can define perseveration as when a particular response is being repeated again and again this is known as perseveration.

For example, words, phrases or gestures even when there is no stimuli being presented at all. This happens generally due to an injury related to the brain or any other organic disorder.

In other words, one can also say that the task of using perseveration is to explain the broad ranges of behaviours which do not function and stems from failure of the brain in order to just hinder the powerful responses or just to allow its common development towards another behavior.

It consists of failure in set switching and shifting from one task to another task in the social contexts.

Perseveration is connected to centration.

We may say that centration is regarded as the foundation for perseveration but perseveration is also considered as a symptom of an injury.

Perseveration is often related to the problems and issues of elderly people and centration is known as a deficiency in the thinking of a child which can be cured or reduced conveniently by adopting developmental goals. 


A child at the age of seven is usually able to comprehend the idea of conservation of liquid.

When he is able to understand this idea, he is going to enter into a concert operational stage of development. Reduction in centration can easily be observed from three major forms.

Firstly, a young kind may be able to understand the idea that nothing has been added or nothing is taken away, so it remains the same.

Secondly,  the discourse of recompense may also be utilized, in which a kid is able to understand that the height of one glass cancels out the width of the other glass.

Lastly, there is a possibility of reversal argumentation in which a kid might say that both the glasses are the same because the water can pour from the wider glass into the taller one in order to make both glasses look equal at the same time.

These arguments are based on logical operations, these logical operations are the mental actions which can be reversed.

As all this is related to the mental actions the kid doesn’t require to perform or to see the transformation he is actually referring to. 

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FAQ about centration

Q1. What is centration? 

The ability of being able to be focused on one particular feature in a situation while ignoring other aspects of it.

Q2. What is egocentrism? 

Egocentrism means that a person is unable to understand that the point of view of other people can be different from the one he holds.

Q3. What is perseveration?

When a person is performing some particular phrases, words or actions again and again due to head injury or other organic disorder then this is known as perseveration. 

Q4. What is decentration?

When a person is able to focus on the multiple perspectives arising from a situation then this is known as decentration.




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