The Inductive Potential of Categories

Susan A. Gelman

in The Essential Child

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195154061
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199786718 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Series in Cognitive Development

 The Inductive Potential of Categories

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Preschool children are not scientists, but they would (implicitly) agree with Gould's assessment of categories, at least in certain domains. With their classifications, children are attempting to discover the “natural order” in the world. This chapter focuses on children's capacity to use categories as the basis for novel inferences about the world. Children's category-based inferences are essentialist in two important respects: they involve reasoning about nonobvious properties (including internal parts, novel behaviors, and causal effects) and an appreciation that appearances can be deceiving when it comes to category membership.

Keywords: essentialism; children; child psychology; categories; inferences; inductive reasoning

Chapter.  14411 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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