Essentialism and folkbiology: Evidence from Brazil

Paulo Sousa, Scott Atran, Douglas Medin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Experimental results in reference to Brazilian children and adults are presented in the context of current discussions about essentialism and folkbiology. Using an adoption paradigm, we replicate the basic findings of a previous article in this journal concerning the early emergence in children of a birth-parent bias (Atran et al. 2001). This cognitive bias supports the claim that causal essentialism cross-culturally constrains the reasoning about the origin, development and maintenance of the characteristics and identity of living kinds. We also report some intriguing differences with earlier findings that speak to theoretical and methodological issues of cultural relativity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-223
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Cognition and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Adoption paradigm
  • Essentialism
  • Folkbiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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