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Children’s Assumption of the Conventionality of Culture


concerning this article should be addressed to Gil Diesendruck, Department of Psychology and Gonda Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel; e-mail:


Abstract— Humans are cultural animals, enveloped in the arbitrary norms, practices, and symbols—or conventions—unique to a particular community of people. The adaptive value for children of recognizing such cultural conventions is indisputable, raising critical questions concerning how they do so. This article first reviews the extant evidence indicating that from early in life, young children appreciate that certain socially available knowledge is known only by members of their cultural community. It then discusses 2 possible accounts of the development of such an assumption and outlines certain challenges facing those accounts. The article concludes by suggesting some directions for future work that are grounded in a sociocognitive approach to cultural acquisition.