The Formal Operational Stage
At this stage, the adolescent or young adult begins to think abstractly and reason about hypothetical problems. Teens begin to think more about moral, philosophical, ethical, social, and political issues that require theoretical and abstract reasoning. They begin to use deductive logic, or reasoning from a general principle to specific information.
This stage involves an increase in logic, the ability to use deductive reasoning, and an understanding of abstract ideas. At this point, people become capable of seeing multiple potential solutions to problems and think more scientifically about the world around them.
The ability to thinking about abstract ideas and situations is the key hallmark of the formal operational stage of cognitive development. The ability to systematically plan for the future and reason about hypothetical situations are also critical abilities that emerge during this stage.