For children as well as adults, object categories (e.g., dog, animal, car, vehicle) serve as a rich base for inductive inferences. Here, we examine children's inferences regarding categories of people. We showed 4-year-old children a picture of an individual (e.g., a white woman), taught them a novel property of the individual (e.g., is good at a new game called zaggit), and examined children's projections of that property to other individuals. Experiment 1 revealed that children used the broad category person as an inductive base: they extended the novel property to other people, regardless of their race or gender, but not to non-human animals or artifacts. However, naming prompted children to use more specific social categories as an inductive base. When the target individual was identified as a member of a named, novel social category, children were more likely to extend the property to members of the same race-based (Experiment 2) or genderbased (Experiment 3) category as the target. Implications of naming in children's formation of social categories based on race or gender are discussed, and the consequences on the emergence of stereotypes are considered.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology