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

Andrei Cimpian, Lucy C. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2012

Keywords

  • 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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