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ERIC Number: EJ1151702
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Aug
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0364-0213
My Heart Made Me Do It: Children's Essentialist Beliefs about Heart Transplants
Meyer, Meredith; Gelman, Susan A.; Roberts, Steven O.; Leslie, Sarah-Jane
Cognitive Science, v41 n6 p1694-1712 Aug 2017
Psychological essentialism is a folk theory characterized by the belief that a causal internal essence or force gives rise to the common outward behaviors or attributes of a category's members. In two studies, we investigated whether 4- to 7-year-old children evidenced essentialist reasoning about heart transplants by asking them to predict whether trading hearts with an individual would cause them to take on the donor's attributes. Control conditions asked children to consider the effects of trading money with an individual. Results indicated that children reasoned according to essentialism, predicting more transfer of attributes in the transplant condition versus the non-bodily money control. Children also endorsed essentialist transfer of attributes even when they did not believe that a transplant would change the recipient's category membership (e.g., endorsing the idea that a recipient of a pig's heart would act pig-like, but denying that the recipient would "become" a pig). This finding runs counter to predictions from a strong interpretation of the "minimalist" position, an alternative to essentialism.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH); National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: HD36043; BCS1226942; BCS1530669