NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ827768
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Oct
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1524-8372
Unmasking "Alive": Children's Appreciation of a Concept Linking All Living Things
Leddon, Erin M.; Waxman, Sandra R.; Medin, Douglas L.
Journal of Cognition and Development, v9 n4 p461-473 Oct 2008
Decades of research have documented in school-aged children a persistent difficulty apprehending an overarching biological concept that encompasses animate entities such as humans and nonhuman animals, as well as plants. This has led many researchers to conclude that young children have yet to integrate plants and animate entities into a concept of LIVING THING. However, virtually all investigations have used the word "alive" to probe children's understanding, a term that technically describes all living things, but in practice is often aligned with animate entities only. We show that when "alive" is replaced with less ambiguous probes, children readily demonstrate knowledge of an overarching concept linking plants with humans and nonhuman animals. This work suggests that children have a burgeoning appreciation of this fundamental biological concept, and that the word "alive" paradoxically masks young children's appreciation of the concept to which it is meant to refer. (Contains 3 figures and 1 footnote.)
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A