Human-centeredness is not a universal feature of young children's reasoning: Culture and experience matter when reasoning about biological entities

Douglas L Medin, Sandra R Waxman*, Jennie Woodring, Karen Washinawatok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

We consider young children's construals of biological phenomena and the forces that shape them, using Carey's (1985) category-based induction task that demonstrated anthropocentric reasoning in young urban children. Follow-up studies (including our own) have questioned the generality of her results, but they have employed quite different procedures and either have not included urban children or, when urban samples were included, have failed to reproduce her original findings. In the present study of 4-10-year-olds from three cultural communities, our procedures followed Carey's more closely and replicated her findings with young urban children. However, they yielded quite different results for young rural European American and young rural Native American children. These results underscore the importance of a complex interaction of culture and experience - including both day-to-day interactions with the natural world and sensitivity to the belief systems of the communities - in children's reasoning about the natural world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-207
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive Development
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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