Language and Experience Influence Children's Biological Induction

in Journal of Cognition and Culture
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Abstract

Children's reasoning about biological concepts is influenced not only by their experiences in the natural world and in their classrooms, but also by the way that these concepts are named. In English, 'animal' can refer either to (a) exclusively non-human animals, or (b) all animate beings (human and non-human animals). In Indonesian, this category of animate beings has no dedicated name. Here, we ask whether this difference in naming has consequences for children's reasoning about humans and non-human animals. Results from English- and Indonesian-speaking children reveals differences in reasoning at age 6, differences that become attenuated by age 9. These results suggest that not only naming practices, but also biologically-relevant formal and informal learning experiences, influence children's reasoning about biological concepts.

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