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Reinvigorating Explanations for the Study of Early Cognitive Development


concerning this article should be addressed to Henry M. Wellman, Department of Psychology, 530 Church Street, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043; e-mail:


Abstract— Emerging research shows that explanations (a) are important to young children, as evidenced by children frequently seeking and providing them, (b) are sometimes strikingly easier for children to provide than comparable judgments and predictions, and (c) aid children’s learning, thereby not only revealing children’s thinking but also fueling cognitive development. More research examining children’s explanations, including research across various cultures, ages, and domains, would be welcome and warranted; the examination of young children’s explanations should regain an important place in the study of cognitive development.

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