ERIC Number: EJ792590
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Reference Count: 0
The Role of Preschoolers' Social Understanding in Evaluating the Informativeness of Causal Interventions
Kushnir, Tamar; Wellman, Henry M.; Gelman, Susan A.
Cognition, v107 n3 p1084-1092 Jun 2008
Preschoolers use information from interventions, namely intentional actions, to make causal inferences. We asked whether children consider some interventions to be more informative than others based on two components of an actor's knowledge state: whether an actor "possesses" causal knowledge, and whether an actor is allowed to "use" their knowledge in a given situation. Three- and four-year-olds saw a novel toy that activated in the presence of certain objects. Two actors, one knowledgeable about the toy and one ignorant, each tried to activate the toy with an object. In Experiment 1, either the actors chose objects or the child chose for them. In Experiment 2, the actors chose objects blindfolded. Objects were always placed on the toy simultaneously, and thus were equally associated with the effect. Preschoolers' causal inferences favored the knowledgeable actor's object "only" when he was allowed to choose it (Experiment 1). Thus, children consider both personal and situational constraints on knowledge when evaluating the informativeness of causal interventions.
Descriptors: Causal Models, Toys, Inferences, Preschool Children, Child Development, Intervention, Influences, Cognitive Processes, Evaluation, Thinking Skills
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education
Authoring Institution: N/A