Difference Between Vygotsky and Piaget

Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget both state that social interaction is an important part when it narrows down to the cognitive development of a person. During the time these theories developed and gained the attention amount psychologists, Vygotsky and Piaget affirmed their theories to be exclusive. Though recent researches have found that these theories are very much complementary, they differ in some basic aspects.

Vygotsky v/s Piaget

The main difference between Vygotsky and Piaget is that Vygotsky determines that a person learns through social interactions and cultural aspects whereas, Piaget believes in the productive approach of a child. The theory of Vygotsky revolves around the objective that communicating socially is the principle of learning whereas Piaget’s theory suggests that a child goes through mental development which is in four different stages.

Vygotsky v s Piaget

Lev Vygotsky, born in the year 1896, was a teacher in Russia who was also a great explorer in learning. He was a psychologist who determined that our cognitive growth is influenced by our social interactions and was convinced that people learn through communicating with other people in the community such as peers, teachers, adults, and other idols.

Jean Piaget was a constructivist of psychology who determined that learning is a reciprocation of accommodation (adjusting old concepts in a new environment) and assimilation(adjusting to the new environment in old concepts). These two process’s to-and-fro leads to short term learning as well as change in long term development and Piaget theory focuses mainly on the long term development

Comparison Table Between Vygotsky and Piaget

Parameters of ComparisonVygotskyPiaget
Theory determinesVygotsky’s theory determines that learning is done through interacting socially.Piaget’s theory determines that learning is taught through personal explorations.
KnowledgeKnowledge is acquired when children learn to work together in a group.Knowledge is acquired by a child’s own experience
LanguageThoughts are driven by language.Language is driven by thoughts.
ContextDevelopment varies depending on the social and cultural context.Development stays the same regardless of the context.
Constructivism Vygotsky is a constructivist in society.Piaget is a cognitive constructivist.

What is Vygotsky?

Lev Vygotsky was a Russian teacher and a psychologist who was a great explorer of social contexts and the first person to examine how social interactions affect the cognitive growth of a person. He was convinced with the idea that learning is taught through social interaction with all ages in society. He was keen to understand social-environmental learnings and thus created a unique theory about it known as Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of cognitive development.

Vygotsky had a revolutionary idea about language being the fundamental point of learning and this points debates that language encourages other activities like reading and writing. Additionally, he also claimed that logical reasoning and reflective thinking are both the result of language which led to the instructional strategies development that supported the classroom set up in literacy and re-evaluation. The first role of the teachers in this setup is to act as a promotor of learning. Comprehensive discussions or interactions, creating an engaging community are the prizes strategies that are needed for cognitive development and outlined three major concepts associated with it:

  • Culture is important in learning.
  • Language is the source of learning.
  • A person develops and learns inside his role in the community.

A person’s moral values and beliefs define the culture of his community and it takes years to shape culture.

What is Piaget?

Jean Piaget was a Swiss development psychologist born in 1896, who created Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. It is a broad theory about the behavior and evolution of human intelligence. The theory deals with epistemology and how human attains, creates, and use it.

This theory is also known as the development stage theory. In this theory, Piaget proposed that an individual goes through four stages of development. The first stage i.e. The sensorimotor stage starts from birth to the obtaining of language. Infants in this stage gradually build intelligence and understanding of the world by synchronizing their vision and hearing by physically interacting with things such as stepping, grabbing.

The second stage is the preoperational stage which starts when the toddler starts to speak and this stage lasts till the age of seven. During this stage, Piaget noted that kids do not fully understand the logic and are unable to manipulate information mentally. The third stage of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is the concrete operational stage that falls between the ages of 7 to 11 years. During this stage, a child begins to think more maturely, almost like an adult and starts to solve problems in logical ways, but hypothetical thinking is not evolved in them. And the last stage is the formal operational stage which is from adolescence into adulthood. In this stage, the person can think hypothetically and reduce reasoning.

Main Differences Between Vygotsky and Piaget

  1. Vygotsky states that the key to cognitive development is language whereas Piaget stated that language is just the result of cognitive development.
  2. Vygotsky’s theory creates opportunities for kids to learn with the help of their teachers and mentors whereas Piaget’s theory supports kids to experience everything on their own.
  3. Vygotsky’s theory states that development differs from culture to culture whereas Piaget states that development is universal.
  4. Vygotsky believes that people learn by interacting with others whereas Piaget believes that people learn from their own experiences.
  5. Lev Vygotsky is a social constructivist whereas Jean Piaget is a cognitive constructivist.


In conclusion, when we try to compare the theories of Vygotsky and Piaget, it is easy to identify why these both are so important in the modern world to understand cognitive development. Both these theories are used to instruct the academic methods that were daily used in childhood learning.

The key difference that separates both the theories is that Vygotsky felt that a child should learn and be guided by someone mature and knowledgeable like a teacher or mentor while Piaget believes that learning from self experiences is crucial for the development of human intelligence. By combining both theories, there is a huge scope to teach a child to develop critical thinking as we as cognitive awareness for an overall learning experience.


  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=wHulDJKbTVQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA69&dq=vygotsky+and+piaget&ots=nIoUwvnZT-&sig=iOLXoyjOQdLR6DeTsSreEevfY2o
  2. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/278475
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