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ERIC Number: EJ1004006
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 48
ISSN: ISSN-0272-930X
Essentialist Reasoning and Knowledge Effects on Biological Reasoning in Young Children
Herrmann, Patricia A.; French, Jason A.; DeHart, Ganie B.; Rosengren, Karl S.
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Journal of Developmental Psychology, v59 n2 Article 5 p198-220 Apr 2013
Biological kinds undergo a variety of changes during their life span, and these changes vary in degree by organism. Understanding that an organism, such as a caterpillar, maintains category identity over its life span despite dramatic changes is a key concept in biological reasoning. At present, we know little about the developmental trajectory of children's understanding of dramatic life-cycle changes and how this might relate to their understanding of evolution. We suggest that this understanding is a key precursor to later understanding of evolutionary change. Two studies examined the impact of age and knowledge on children's biological reasoning about living kinds that undergo a range of natural life-span changes--from subtle to dramatic. The participants, who were 3, 4, and 7 years old, were shown paired pictures of juvenile and adult animals and asked to endorse biological or nonbiological causal mechanisms to account for life-span change. Additionally, reasoning of 3- and 4-year-old participants was compared before and after exposure to caterpillars transforming into butterflies. The results are framed in terms of a developmental trajectory in essentialist reasoning, a cognitive bias that has been associated with difficulties in understanding and accepting evolution. (Contains 1 table, 3 figures, and 1 footnote.)
Wayne State University Press. The Leonard N. Simons Building, 4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309. Tel: 800-978-7323; Fax: 313-577-6131; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education; Grade 1; Preschool Education; Primary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York