Over the past several decades, psychological essentialism has been an important topic of study, incorporating research from multiple areas of psychology, philosophy and linguistics. At its most basic level, essentialism is the tendency to represent certain concepts in terms of a deeper, unobservable property that is responsible for category membership. Originally, this concept was used to understand people’s reasoning about natural kind concepts, such as TIGER and WATER, but more recently, researchers have identified the emergence of essentialist-like intuitions in a number of other contexts, including people’s representation of concepts like SCIENTIST or CHRISTIAN. This paper develops an account that aims to capture how essentialism may operate across these varied cases. In short, we argue that while there is diversity in the forms essentialism can take, these varied cases reflect the same underlying cognitive structure.