ERIC Number: ED237238
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Natural Kind Terms and Children's Ability to Draw Inferences.
Gelman, Susan A.; Markman, Ellen M.
An exploratory study probed the extent to which children rely on category membership to guide their inferences. A total of 60 children, 4 years of age, were shown 20 sets of pictures of various animals, plants, and minerals. Each set consisted of representations of three objects having two salient features: perceptual similarity/dissimilarity and category membership/nonmembership. Given information about a category member (for example, feeding behavior of flamingos) plus information about a category nonmember (feeding behavior of bats), subjects were asked to draw an inference about a category member (for example, a blackbird) that was perceptually similar to the category nonmember (the bat). At least two possible responses existed: inferences based on perceptual similarity (blackbird and bat) or on category membership (flamingo and blackbird). Control conditions were established to ascertain that the information given was unfamiliar to subjects and to demonstrate children's ability to perform when category information was not in conflict with perceptual information. Replicating the experimental condition, a second study asked children to justify their choices. Results showed that the category label had a powerful effect: 68 percent of the time preschool children preferred to draw inferences on the basis of category membership. Children's justifications provided converging evidence that they firmly believed in the importance of category name. No clear-cut item effects due to domain-specific knowledge were found. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Categorical Perception; Inference Skills; Natural Language; Stimulus Similarity
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Psychological Association (San Francisco, CA, April 6-10, 1983).