How Two Intuitive Theories Shape the Development of Social Categorization

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Social categorization provides a valuable mechanism for explaining and predicting human behavior, yet also contributes to the development of social stereotyping and prejudice. Thus, understanding how social categorization develops is critical for both cognitive and social development. This article presents a theoretical perspective on the development of social categorization-that children map intuitive theories about the structure of the social world onto categories they encounter in their environment. In particular, 2 intuitive theories-that social categories are natural kinds and that social categories mark people who are obligated to one another-are described as shaping the acquisition of social categories. The article discusses implications for how children explain, predict, and interact with their environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-16
Number of pages5
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Folk theories
  • Social categorization
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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