Remembering kinds: New evidence that categories are privileged in children's thinking

Andrei Cimpian, Lucy C. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What are the representations and learning mechanisms that underlie conceptual development? The present research provides evidence in favor of the claim that this process is guided by an early-emerging predisposition to think and learn about abstract kinds. Specifically, three studies (N=192) demonstrated that 4- to 7-year-old children have better recall for novel information about kinds (e.g., that dogs catch a bug called " fep" ) than for similar information about individuals (e.g., that a particular dog catches a bug called " fep" ). By showing that children are particularly likely to retain information about kinds, this work not only provides a first empirical demonstration of a phenomenon that may be key to conceptual development but also makes it apparent that young children's thinking is suffused with abstractions rather than being perceptually-based and concrete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-185
Number of pages25
JournalCognitive Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Conceptual development
  • Generic language
  • Kinds
  • Memory

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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