There are several different processes involved in acquiring new information and ideas. While some of these processes may revolve around adaptations, others may suggest alterations to pre-existing ideas. Assimilation and accommodation are two processes of adaptation proposed by Jean Piaget in her theory of cognitive development. While they are often confused as the same process of social adjustment, there are significant differences.
Assimilation vs Accommodation
The main difference between assimilation and accommodation is that while assimilation occurs without the conspicuous knowledge of the individual, the process of accommodation takes place consciously. Furthermore, assimilation is generally dependent on cordial relationships. However, accommodation is based on a love-hate relationship.
Assimilation refers to a process whereby new information is adopted into the already existing schema. The process of assimilation absorbs the new information or experience and adds to the pre-existing knowledge of our minds. An infant acquiring sensorimotor skills is an example of assimilation. Another example of assimilation is when a child sees a new type of cat and immediately recognises it. Assimilation is categorised as a subjective process.
Accommodation is a process whereby pre-existing information experiences alteration in order to fit new ideas. Accommodation is a common phenomenon in both children and adults. The process of accommodation is pivotal to adapt new ideas in the changing world. Furthermore, accommodation is a conscious adaptation process. An example of accommodation is when a child may classify a bus as a car, but eventually he is corrected and told of the differences between a bus and a car. The child then alters his existing knowledge base to accommodate new information.
Comparison Table Between Assimilation and Accommodation
|Parameters of Comparison
|Assimilation is a gradual process because knowledge acquisition occurs for a long period of time.
|Accommodation refers to a sudden change of ideas.
|In assimilation, the knowledge base undergoes modifications only.
|In accommodation, the knowledge base is altered and a new base may come into existence.
|Assimilation takes place unconsciously.
|Accommodation is a conscious adaptation process.
|Assimilation occurs in the presence of similar ideas and concepts.
|Accommodation takes place when there are contrasting thought processes
|Assimilation is a permanent process.
|Accommodation may or may not be permanent.
What is Assimilation?
Assimilation refers to a process whereby new information is adopted into the already existing schema. According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, assimilation is the process that involves either using or transforming the existing environment in order to effectively place it into the existing cognitive structures. There are several features peculiar to the process of assimilation.
Ideally, it is through the process of assimilation that human beings perceive and adapt to new ideas. Here, an individual fits his new learnings into what he is already well-acquainted with. The process of assimilation absorbs the new information or experience and adds to the pre-existing knowledge of our minds.
There are several examples of assimilation in everyday life. When a chef learns a new cooking technique, he does so through assimilation. Moreover, when a computer programmer learns a new computing language, it occurs due to assimilation. Lastly, an infant acquiring sensorimotor skills is also an example of assimilation.
Assimilation is a subjective phenomenon. One of the reasons for the subjectivity is that every individual has a different knowledge base. Therefore, every individual uses his pre-existing knowledge to make sense of the new information and ideas. Assimilation, thus, is a process of adaptation that was put forth by Jean Piaget.
What is Accommodation?
Accommodation refers to a process of adaptation put forth by Jean Piaget in her theory of cognitive development primarily aimed for children. According to Piaget, accommodation is a process whereby pre-existing information experiences alteration in order to fit new ideas. This process in turn may lead to the creation of a new schema. Accommodation, thus, is a pivotal process to bring about changes in the thought process to conform to new societal norms.
Accommodation takes place in both children and adults. When an individual experiences new information that is usually in conflict with his existing knowledge base, it becomes necessary to accommodate the new ideas in order to ensure that the inner knowledge base conforms with the thought processes of the outside world.
There are several examples of accommodation in everyday life. Consider, for instance, an individual raised in an orthodox household that opposes same sex marriage. However, when the individual studies abroad, he realizes that same sex marriages are acceptable. There is, therefore, an alteration of the pre-existing knowledge.
Accommodation thus involves a real change in the thought processes of an individual. The process of accommodation is pivotal to adapt new ideas in the changing world. Accommodation occurs when conflicting ideas come into existence. Accommodation is a crucial process especially for children to adapt to new ideas and learnings.
Main Differences Between Assimilation and Accommodation
- While assimilation occurs in the presence of similar ideas and concepts, accommodation takes place when there are contrasting thought processes.
- Assimilation is a gradual process because knowledge acquisition occurs for a long period of time. In contrast, accommodation refers to a sudden change of ideas.
- In assimilation, the knowledge base undergoes modifications only. In accommodation, the knowledge base is altered and a new base may come into existence.
- While assimilation takes place unconsciously, accommodation is a conscious adaptation process.
- While assimilation is a permanent process, accommodation may or may not be permanent.
Thus, assimilation and accommodation vary on several grounds. While the process of assimilation takes place slowly because new ideas are acquired for a long period of time, the process of accommodation is a likely outcome of sudden and radical changes. There are several characteristics that are peculiar to both assimilation and accommodation.
Both assimilation and accommodation are important processes of social adjustment. It is necessary that assimilation and accommodation are in a state of equilibrium in an individual for a healthy adaptation of new ideas. The process of accommodation is pivotal to adapt new ideas in the changing world. To conclude, assimilation and accommodation have considerable differences.