This research was supported in part by a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) training grant postdoctoral fellowship to J.L.J. and an NICHD grant (HD-36043) to S.A.G. We are grateful to Ryan Clement for assistance with data collection and coding. We also thank the teachers, staff, and children of the University of Michigan Children’s Center. Portions of this research were reported at the 2003 Biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.
Robots and Rodents: Children’s Inferences About Living and Nonliving Kinds
Article first published online: 3 NOV 2007
Volume 78, Issue 6, pages 1675–1688, November/December 2007
How to Cite
Jipson, J. L. and Gelman, S. A. (2007), Robots and Rodents: Children’s Inferences About Living and Nonliving Kinds. Child Development, 78: 1675–1688. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01095.x
- Issue published online: 3 NOV 2007
- Article first published online: 3 NOV 2007
This study tests the firm distinction children are said to make between living and nonliving kinds. Three, 4-, and 5-year-old children and adults reasoned about whether items that varied on 3 dimensions (alive, face, behavior) had a range of properties (biological, psychological, perceptual, artifact, novel, proper names). Findings demonstrate that by 4 years of age, children make clear distinctions between prototypical living and nonliving kinds regardless of the property under consideration. Even 3-year-olds distinguish prototypical living and nonliving kinds when asked about biological properties. When reasoning about nonbiological properties for the full range of items, however, even 5-year-olds and adults occasionally rely on facial features. Thus, the living/nonliving distinction may have more narrow consequences than previously acknowledged.