ERIC Number: EJ883381
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Inconsistency with Prior Knowledge Triggers Children's Causal Explanatory Reasoning
Legare, Cristine H.; Gelman, Susan A.; Wellman, Henry M.
Child Development, v81 n3 p929-944 May-Jun 2010
What events trigger causal explanatory reasoning in young children? Children's explanations could be triggered by either consistent events (suggesting that explanations serve a confirmatory function) or inconsistent events (suggesting that they promote discovery of new information). In 2 studies with preschool children (N = 80), events that were consistent with children's prior knowledge were simultaneously contrasted with events that were inconsistent with prior knowledge, and children were invited to explain either outcome (or both). Results demonstrate that inconsistent outcomes are an especially powerful trigger for children's explanations and that the explanations children provide for inconsistent outcomes refer to internal causal properties, overriding perceptual appearances. In sum, the data provide empirical evidence that inconsistent events motivate children to construct explanations, thereby suggesting that children's explanations function in the service of discovery.
Descriptors: Prior Learning, Preschool Children, Concept Formation, Attribution Theory, Child Development
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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