The Role of Within-Category Variability in Category-Based Induction: A Developmental Study

Cognitive Science 34 (8):1561-1573 (2010)
Abstract
The present studies tested the hypothesis that strong assumptions about within-category homogeneity impede children’s recognition of the inductive value of diverse samples of evidence. In Study 1a, children (7-year-olds) and adults were randomly assigned to receive a prime emphasizing within-category variability, a prime emphasizing within-category similarities, or to not receive a prime. Only following the variability prime, children demonstrated a reliable preference for evaluating diverse over nondiverse samples to determine whether there is support for a category-wide generalization. Adults demonstrated a robust preference for diverse samples in all conditions. These effects extended beyond the specific categories included in the prime, as well as to multiple types of test questions. Study 1b demonstrated that priming variability leads children to select diverse samples only when doing so is informative for induction. Implications for conceptual development are discussed
Keywords Sampling  Induction  Variability  Conceptual development  Natural kinds  Categories
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    Evan Heit (2000). Properties of Inductive Reasoning. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 7:569-592.

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