This research was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to Amanda C. Brandone, University of Illinois funds to Andrei Cimpian, Princeton University funds to Sarah-Jane Leslie, and NICHD Grant HD-36043 and NSF Grant BCS-0817128 to Susan A. Gelman. We are grateful to the children, parents, and teachers at the UM Children’s Center for participating in this research. We also thank Kristin Lang, Jenna Hedglen, Ben Boldt, Melissa Yako, and the Concepts and Theories in Human Development and UIUC Cognitive Development Labs for assistance in data collection.
Do Lions Have Manes? For Children, Generics Are About Kinds Rather Than Quantities
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 83, Issue 2, pages 423–433, March/April 2012
How to Cite
Brandone, A. C., Cimpian, A., Leslie, S.-J. and Gelman, S. A. (2012), Do Lions Have Manes? For Children, Generics Are About Kinds Rather Than Quantities. Child Development, 83: 423–433. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01708.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 11 JAN 2012
Generic statements (e.g., “Lions have manes”) make claims about kinds (e.g., lions as a category) and, for adults, are distinct from quantificational statements (e.g., “Most lions have manes”), which make claims about how many individuals have a given property. This article examined whether young children also understand that generics do not depend purely on quantitative information. Five-year-olds (n = 36) evaluated pairs of questions expressing properties that were matched in prevalence but varied in whether adults accept them as generically true (e.g., “Do lions have manes?” [true] vs. “Are lions boys?” [false]). Results demonstrated that children evaluate generics based on more than just quantitative information. Data suggest that even young children recognize that generics make claims about kinds.