This work benefited from conversations with Andrei Cimpian, Mathieu Le Corre, Alan M. Leslie, and Karen R. Neary. This work was funded by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, awarded to the second author.
Preschoolers Acquire General Knowledge by Sharing in Pretense
Article first published online: 14 MAR 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 83, Issue 3, pages 1064–1071, May/June 2012
How to Cite
Sutherland, S. L. and Friedman, O. (2012), Preschoolers Acquire General Knowledge by Sharing in Pretense. Child Development, 83: 1064–1071. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01748.x
- Issue published online: 1 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 14 MAR 2012
Children acquire general knowledge about many kinds of things, but there are few known means by which this knowledge is acquired. In this article, it is proposed that children acquire generic knowledge by sharing in pretend play. In Experiment 1, twenty-two 3- to 4-year-olds watched pretense in which a puppet represented a “nerp” (an unfamiliar kind of animal). For instance, in one scenario, the nerp ate and disliked a carrot. When subsequently asked generic questions about real nerps, children’s responses suggested that they had learned general facts (e.g., nerps dislike carrots). In Experiment 2, thirty-two 4- to 5-year-olds learned from scenarios lacking pretend speech or sound effects. The findings reveal a long overlooked means by which children can acquire generic knowledge.