Introduction to the special issue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of conceptions of evolution is a problem of both great practical concern and important theoretical interest. Many Americans do not understand basic principles of evolution, such as natural selection, and part of the reason may be that these concepts are notoriously difficult to learn and to teach. The four contributions in this special issue all investigate the development of conceptions in evolution. Several of the articles focus on the interaction between children's prior beliefs and their interpretation and cognitive construction of evolutionary concepts. For example, essentialist beliefs (e.g., Gelman, 2003) may affect how children understand and interpret natural selection and the evolution of species. The four articles all demonstrate that prior beliefs constrain and influence how children and adults interpret what they observe and are taught about evolution. Taken together, the articles demonstrate the importance of taking a developmental approach to understanding the development of conceptions of evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalMerrill-Palmer Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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