Continuity and change in the development of category-based induction: The test case of diversity-based reasoning

Marjorie Rhodes, Peter Liebenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present research examined the extent to which the cognitive mechanisms available to support inductive inference stay constant across development or undergo fundamental change. Four studies tested how children (ages 5-10) incorporate information about sample composition into their category-based generalizations. Children's use of sample composition varied across age and type of category. For familiar natural kinds, children ages 5-8 generalized similarly from diverse and non-diverse samples of evidence, whereas older children generalized more broadly from more diverse sets. In contrast, for novel categories, children of each age made broader generalizations from diverse than non-diverse samples. These studies provide the first clear evidence that young children are able to incorporate sample diversity into their inductive reasoning. These findings suggest developmental continuity in the cognitive mechanisms available for inductive inference, but developmental changes in the role that prior knowledge plays in shaping these processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-95
Number of pages22
JournalCognitive Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Category-based induction
  • Conceptual development
  • Diversity-based reasoning
  • Inductive reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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