What does accommodation mean?

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Accommodation is the process of modifying one’s schema to accommodate new information.

To explain accommodation, we must first define schemas. Proposed by Jean Piaget, schemas are outlines by which we store information. We attempt to categorize all of our information and knowledge into existing schemas, unless new information requires a new schema.

For example, say a child sees an animal with four legs. Upon learning that it is a dog, the child creates a schema for animals with four legs called “dog”.

However, when the child sees another animal with four legs, a cat, the child cannot store the new knowledge of “cat” in the same schema as “dog”, as they are different.

Therefore, he/she creates a new schema for cat, this time with four legs and pointy ears. He/She also modifies the existing schema for dog to four legs and floppy ears. And so on.

This process of accommodation occurs whenever we, children and adults alike, learn new information that cannot be categorized in existing schemas.

example from here

Of course, we also find that schemas can cause us to modify the new information to better fit in our schemas. *Bartlett (1932) – “War of the Ghost” *


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