ERIC Number: ED363404
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Preschoolers' Understanding of Germs as Causes of Illness.
Two studies examined preschoolers' understanding of germs as causes of illness. Previous research suggests that preschoolers know that certain behaviors lead to illness without understanding why or how. In the first study, 22 children between 4 and 5 years old were presented with 12 brief stories describing characters engaged in either dangerous (potentially leading to illness) or benign (without potential for causing illness) actions and were asked to predict whether the characters would get sick as a result of their actions. In the standard condition, germs were not mentioned, but in the opposite condition, children were told that the characters in the benign stories contacted germs, and that those in the dangerous stories did not contact germs. In the standard condition, children associated illness with dangerous rather than benign items, while in the opposite condition, children associated illness with benign rather than dangerous actions. The second study sought to demonstrate that children were not simply cued by the experimenter's mention of the presence or absence of germs. Stories depicted cases where characters contacted germs but did not get sick, and cases that did not involve germs but that led to sickness. The predictions of the 24 preschoolers involved did not mirror the presence or absence of germs in the stories, demonstrating that preschoolers understand non-obvious mechanisms that explain certain apparent relationships; that is, that germs are the means whereby some actions lead to illness, but are not the mechanism for all illness causation. (AC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (60th, New Orleans, LA, March 25-28, 1993).