Categories convey normative information across domains and development

Affiliated institutions: New York University

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Description: Young children display a pervasive bias to assume that what they observe in the world reflects how things are supposed to be. The present study examined the nature of this bias, by testing whether it reflects a particular form of social reasoning or a more general feature of category representations. Children (ages 4-9) and adults (N = 747) evaluated instances of nonconformity among members of novel biological and social kinds. Children held normative expectations for both animal and social categories—in both cases, they said it was wrong for a category member to engage in category-atypical behavior. These beliefs about category norms depended on the extent to which people saw the exemplars as representative of coherent kinds. Thus, early normativity appears to rely on the interplay between general conceptual biases and domain-specific beliefs about category structure.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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