What Are the Similarities Between Piaget and Vygotsky?

Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky were both developmental psychologists who studied how language develops in children. Piaget and Vygotsky both believed that children’s inquisitive natures give them the ability to develop language skills from an early age. Both men are considered pioneers in the field of developmental psychology.

Swiss native Jean Piaget and Russian-born Lev Vygotsky are often compared in developmental psychology literature. Piaget’s theory states that all children develop along similar paths, regardless of environmental influences. In contrast, Vygotsky’s theory posed that culture and socialization play a crucial role in child development. While Piaget believed that brain development in the individual child allows that child to develop the skills needed for language acquisition, Vygotsky felt that internal development and language acquisition happen simultaneously, with both being supported by outside influences such as parents and peers.

Piaget and Vygotsky were contemporaries, both studying child psychological development during the early 20th century. Although both men studied the same subject, their theories contained more differences than similarities. Piaget’s research emphasized “nature,” or innate capabilities, while Vygotsky’s theories revolved around “nurture,” or the connection between environment and development. Vygotsky’s studies were cut short by his untimely death at the age of 38, while Piaget continued his research into cognitive child development for decades.