Formal Operations (age 12 up)

The ability to think systematically about all the logical relations within a problem. Thinking about abstractions, ideals, and about the process of thinking itself.

Reality is made Secondary to Possibility

Thought operates on a theoretical plane.

Thinking about possibilities - what's not immediately present, not directly observed.

What might occur.

Abstract & Hypothetical

Thought deals with propositions, no longer only objects.

This is seen in:

Thinking ahead - planning for the future.

Thinking about hypotheses - counter factuals.

Thinking about thought - metacognition.

Thinking beyond conventional limits - idealism.

Thought is Flexible

Complex problems can be handled.

All possible combinations can be considered.

Mental operations form a structured whole.

An equilibrated system of thought.