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ERIC Number: EJ774359
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Pages: 16
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Can Being Scared Cause Tummy Aches? Naive Theories, Ambiguous Evidence, and Preschoolers' Causal Inferences
Schulz, Laura E.; Bonawitz, Elizabeth Baraff; Griffiths, Thomas L.
Developmental Psychology, v43 n5 p1124-1139 Sep 2007
Causal learning requires integrating constraints provided by domain-specific theories with domain-general statistical learning. In order to investigate the interaction between these factors, the authors presented preschoolers with stories pitting their existing theories against statistical evidence. Each child heard 2 stories in which 2 candidate causes co-occurred with an effect. Evidence was presented in the form: AB?E; CA?E; AD?E; and so forth. In 1 story, all variables came from the same domain; in the other, the recurring candidate cause, A, came from a different domain (A was a psychological cause of a biological effect). After receiving this statistical evidence, children were asked to identify the cause of the effect on a new trial. Consistent with the predictions of a Bayesian model, all children were more likely to identify A as the cause within domains than across domains. Whereas 3.5-year-olds learned only from the within-domain evidence, 4- and 5-year-olds learned from the cross-domain evidence and were able to transfer their new expectations about psychosomatic causality to a novel task.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A