Adaptation takes place simultaneously, and in many ways, it is a complementary process to organization. Like organization, adaptation is a process that has its theoretical roots in biology, which also reflects Piaget’s early training as a biologist. Adaptation is the individual’s adjustment to the environment.
The plant and animal kingdom abound with examples of adaptation (also called adaption). For example, the female cardinal is colored a dull brown (whereas the male is bright red), so she is minimally conspicuous and in less danger of being killed (a threat to the survival of the species). The beautiful colors of spring and summer flowers attract insects that are part of the reproductive process that takes place through pollination.
Adaptation is a very complex process that involves the modification of the individual or the environment to fit the needs of the individual, and the process of adaptation can be broken down into two complementary processes: accommodation and assimilation. Assimilation is the modification of external experiences to fit existing mental schemas or structures, whereas accommodation is the modification of existing mental structures or schemas to meet new experiences. Assimilation and accommodation are complementary, and both operate simultaneously, yet one can take precedence over the other depending on the demands of the environment or the developmental level of the individual.
- Jean Piaget Society. Internet resources. Retrieved from http://www.piaget.org/links.html
- Salkind, (2004). Introduction to theories of human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Singer, , & Revenson, T. (1996). A Piaget primer: How a child thinks. New York: Plume Books.