Theory‐based Correlations and Their Role in Children's Concepts

Susan E. Barrett, Hervé Abdi, Gregory L. Murphy, Jeanette Mc Carthy Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent accounts of conceptual development have emphasized the important role intuitive theories play in concept formation; however, it is still not clear exactly how these theories exert their influence. We present evidence that elementary school age children use theories to link together specific features associated with individual concepts. The results of our first experiment indicate that theory‐based correlations play a prominent role in typicality judgments and in decisions about category membership. In a second experiment, we demonstrate that children's theories play an important role in determining which attributes will be considered most central to the concept. The results of these studies suggest that feature correlations can serve to link children's concepts with their intuitive theories of the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1595-1616
Number of pages22
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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