What is equilibration According to Piaget?

Equilibration comes from the individual's offset activities against external disturbances. Ie. that it is not a state of rest - but can be perceived as a stable state in an open system. Equilibration must be understood as an inherent and constitutive part of organic and psychic life.

The regulatory mechanisms apply at all levels:

  • The basic regulations of motivation (needs and interests).
  • The Will function in the emotional area.
  • The perceptual (Sensory perception).
  • The sensorimotor.
  • The cognitive (cognitive).

Learning is only one aspect of development. Development theory distinguishes between internal factors (maturation) and external (environmental impacts).

There are three classic development factors:

  • The hereditary masses.
  • The physical environment.
  • The social environment.

Piaget operated with two concepts under which man can evolve. Assimilation and accommodation.


Assimilation means adaptation, by changing or giving up something. It is an adaptation to external structures. If one includes the interplay between external and internal factors, then any kind of behavior appears as assimilation between a given situation and previous patterns (at different levels, it also includes inherited patterns).

Ie. that you experience the impressions from your surroundings and incorporate them into the already built-up image of your surroundings. Your sensory impressions are fitted in/recorded as additions and expansions of the structure you already have of your reality. There is a reduction in experience with already existing schemas.


Accommodation is the reverse process. This may seem somewhat more unpleasant, as one's sensory impressions and experience of something so different from the structure you have built up to your reality around something will have to be re-created. It is a development of the inner structure to adapt to the need of the outer world. 

Accommodation is the adaptation of the individual to the surroundings - changing existing schedules. Here, the personal form is broken down/restructured so that the new sensory impression can give a cognitive meaning. In other words, it is transcendental learning that in some cases can be anxious, as one's reality has so far been wrong.

Any development will strive to find a balance between internal and external factors - assimilation and accommodation.

The equilibration factor

The equilibration factor has a coordinating function concerning the three main factors (maturation, physical environment, and social environment) - and can be perceived as a fourth factor, which, however, can not be equated with the others.

There is a mutual influence of the factors, but the equilibration factor has a more general function.

Any problem theoretically, or in practice is an expression of a lack of balance - so intellectual processes are still imbalanced.

The mathematical-logical structures

Two psychological interpretations:

(Rests on the empirical ground) These structures perform a coordinating function on already existing material. That is, the individual collects material without the use of logical structures - and afterward, logical-mathematical coordination takes place (has a rationalist or dialectical starting point). According to this view, the logical-mathematical structures should constitute tools for the acquisition of cognition and not only subsequent coordination.

"For many years, all our research has proven that at all levels of development there are structures which are a kind of draft of logic, and which gradually pass into the logical-mathematical structures through the equilibration process."

"We have never been able to observe pure findings without connection to logical or pre-logical structures."

The logical structures are thus prepared at all levels by smaller fixed structures, which are part of the same shape as the logical ones and which constitute a kind of first design of them.

The predominant characteristics of logical operations are complete reversibility. The equilibration mechanisms of the equilibration process prepare for this complete reversibility - through feedback at the previous level.

The preparatory operations, which are based on these feedbacks, in turn, prepare the next operational movement. The feedback and preparatory operations together form the basic pattern from which the reversible operations emanate once the equalization functions have been stabilized and completed.

The cognitive functions are formed through a succession of stages.

Reversibility spans a fine level scale - and is not a matter of all or nothing. The most elementary control functions continue to exist - along with the logical structures.

Equilibration models

Three models that have been or can be used in psychology:

  • Balance of forces within a field (does not take into account overcompensation).
  • A pure probabilistic model. Based on probability. The model does not take into account differentiated activity.
  • Equilibration is a result of equalization between external disturbances and the activity of the individual. Can be perceived as an equalization game - where activity describes strategies to reduce losses and increase profits.

Description in strategy language can be translated into probabilistic language. Each strategy can be characterized by objective probability, and if the structure of the game matrix is ​​unsatisfactory, one can limit oneself to a simple probabilistic description of successive reactions.


  • A cognitive balance is always mobile.
  • A cognitive state of Equilibration always consists of a system of activities on the part of the individual with a compensatory effect on the result of the external disturbances.

Disruptions can occur in two ways:

  • By the lower, unstable fortunes of Equilibration (sensory-motor and perceptual) Real environmental changes in the present.
  • At the higher operational structures: Conceivable changes that are not realizable in the present (The individual can anticipate disturbances).

Summary points

  • The operational (logical-mathematical) structures constitute a system of all conceivable transformations within a certain class (for example The statement logic).
  • The concept of equilibration can have an explanatory function in psychology, as the possible transformations of the operational systems are found in the individual's consciousness, which is the subject of the psychologist's investigations.
  • The operational reversibility is the result of and not the cause of the gradual stabilization.
  • The operational structures serve as a tool for future stabilizations once they are built.