Developmental evidence for a link between the inherence bias in explanation and psychological essentialism

Shelbie L. Sutherland, Andrei Cimpian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The assumption that natural and social categories have deeper “essences” is a fundamental feature of the conceptual system, with wide-ranging consequences for behavior. What are the developmental origins of this assumption? We propose that essentialism emerges in part from a bias in the process of generating explanations that leads reasoners to overuse inherent or intrinsic features. Consistent with this proposal, the inherence bias in 4-year-olds’ explanations predicted the strength of their essentialist beliefs (Study 1; N = 64), and manipulations of the inherence bias in 4- to 7-year-olds (Studies 2 and 3; N = 112 each) led to subsequent changes in the essentialist beliefs of children who attended to the manipulation. These findings contribute to our understanding of the origins of essentialism.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages265-281
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of experimental child psychology
Volume177
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

Psychology

Keywords

  • Concepts
  • Development
  • Essentialism
  • Explanation
  • Heuristics
  • Inherence bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Developmental evidence for a link between the inherence bias in explanation and psychological essentialism. / Sutherland, Shelbie L.; Cimpian, Andrei.

In: Journal of experimental child psychology, Vol. 177, 01.01.2019, p. 265-281.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{d3b6fbb9cd9b4d7794ef6cb2b8bffada,
title = "Developmental evidence for a link between the inherence bias in explanation and psychological essentialism",
abstract = "The assumption that natural and social categories have deeper “essences” is a fundamental feature of the conceptual system, with wide-ranging consequences for behavior. What are the developmental origins of this assumption? We propose that essentialism emerges in part from a bias in the process of generating explanations that leads reasoners to overuse inherent or intrinsic features. Consistent with this proposal, the inherence bias in 4-year-olds’ explanations predicted the strength of their essentialist beliefs (Study 1; N = 64), and manipulations of the inherence bias in 4- to 7-year-olds (Studies 2 and 3; N = 112 each) led to subsequent changes in the essentialist beliefs of children who attended to the manipulation. These findings contribute to our understanding of the origins of essentialism.",
keywords = "Concepts, Development, Essentialism, Explanation, Heuristics, Inherence bias",
author = "Sutherland, {Shelbie L.} and Andrei Cimpian",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.jecp.2018.06.002",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "177",
pages = "265--281",
journal = "Journal of Experimental Child Psychology",
issn = "0022-0965",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Developmental evidence for a link between the inherence bias in explanation and psychological essentialism

AU - Sutherland, Shelbie L.

AU - Cimpian, Andrei

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - The assumption that natural and social categories have deeper “essences” is a fundamental feature of the conceptual system, with wide-ranging consequences for behavior. What are the developmental origins of this assumption? We propose that essentialism emerges in part from a bias in the process of generating explanations that leads reasoners to overuse inherent or intrinsic features. Consistent with this proposal, the inherence bias in 4-year-olds’ explanations predicted the strength of their essentialist beliefs (Study 1; N = 64), and manipulations of the inherence bias in 4- to 7-year-olds (Studies 2 and 3; N = 112 each) led to subsequent changes in the essentialist beliefs of children who attended to the manipulation. These findings contribute to our understanding of the origins of essentialism.

AB - The assumption that natural and social categories have deeper “essences” is a fundamental feature of the conceptual system, with wide-ranging consequences for behavior. What are the developmental origins of this assumption? We propose that essentialism emerges in part from a bias in the process of generating explanations that leads reasoners to overuse inherent or intrinsic features. Consistent with this proposal, the inherence bias in 4-year-olds’ explanations predicted the strength of their essentialist beliefs (Study 1; N = 64), and manipulations of the inherence bias in 4- to 7-year-olds (Studies 2 and 3; N = 112 each) led to subsequent changes in the essentialist beliefs of children who attended to the manipulation. These findings contribute to our understanding of the origins of essentialism.

KW - Concepts

KW - Development

KW - Essentialism

KW - Explanation

KW - Heuristics

KW - Inherence bias

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85054068122&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85054068122&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.jecp.2018.06.002

DO - 10.1016/j.jecp.2018.06.002

M3 - Article

VL - 177

SP - 265

EP - 281

JO - Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

T2 - Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

JF - Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

SN - 0022-0965

ER -