ERIC Number: EJ1026008
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Blocking a Redundant Cue: What Does It Say about Preschoolers' Causal Competence?
Kloos, Heidi; Sloutsky, Vladimir M.
Developmental Science, v16 n5 p713-727 Sep 2013
The current study investigates the degree to which preschoolers can engage in causal inferences in a blocking paradigm, a paradigm in which a cue is consistently linked with a target, either alone (A-T) or paired with another cue (AB-T). Unlike previous blocking studies with preschoolers, we manipulated the causal structure of the events without changing the specific contingencies. In particular, cues were said to be either potential causes (prediction condition), or they were said to be potential effects (diagnosis condition). The causally appropriate inference is to block the redundant cue B when it is a potential cause of the target, but not when it is a potential effect. Findings show a stark difference in performance between preschoolers and adults: While adults blocked the redundant cue only in the prediction condition, children blocked the redundant cue indiscriminately across both conditions. Therefore, children, but not adults, ignored the causal structure of the events. These findings challenge a developmental account that attributes sophisticated machinery of causal reasoning to young children.
Descriptors: Preschool Children, Inferences, Cues, Adults, Comparative Analysis, Age Differences, Thinking Skills, Prediction, Context Effect
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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