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ERIC Number: EJ831473
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 46
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Domain Generality and Specificity in Children's Causal Inference about Ambiguous Data
Sobel, David M.; Munro, Sarah E.
Developmental Psychology, v45 n2 p511-524 Mar 2009
In 5 experiments the authors examined children's understanding of causal mechanisms and their reasoning about base rates across domains of knowledge. Experiment 1 showed that 3-year-olds interpret objects activating a machine differently from a novel agent liking each object; children are more likely to treat the latter as indicating the objects with the causal property possessed an internal property. Experiment 2 suggested that 3-year-olds potentially use this mechanistic knowledge to reason about ambiguous data in terms of base rate information. Experiments 3, 4a, and 4b showed that these inferences are not the result of children being more interested in an agent's desires. Instead, children integrate domain-specific knowledge (i.e., reasoning about an agent vs. a machine) with the nature of that inference within that domain (i.e., reasoning about desires vs. other mental states). The authors suggest that a particular computational approach, based on Bayesian inference, best describes these inferences. This approach offers a description of how children might integrate domain-specific mechanism knowledge into a more general model of causal inference based on observing covariation data among events. (Contains 3 footnotes, 3 tables, and 2 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A