Core Folkbiological Concepts: New Evidence from Wichí Children and Adults

in Journal of Cognition and Culture
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

Abstract

We examine two core folk-biological concepts (e.g., animate, living thing, where small capital letters denote concepts; quotation marks denote their names; italics denote language-specific names) in adults and children from the Wichí community, an indigenous group of Amerindians living in the Chaco forest in north Argentina. We provide an overview of the Wichí community, describing in brief their interaction with objects and events in the natural world, and the naming systems they use to describe key folkbiological concepts. We then report the results of two behavioral studies, each designed to deepen our understanding of the acquisition of the fundamental folkbiological concepts animate and living thing in Wichí adults and children. These results converge well with evidence from other communities. Wichí children and adults appreciate these fundamental concepts; both are strongly aligned with the Wichí community-wide belief systems. This work underscores the importance of considering cultural and linguistic factors in studying the acquisition of fundamental concepts about the biological world.

Core Folkbiological Concepts: New Evidence from Wichí Children and Adults

in Journal of Cognition and Culture

Sections

References

AlvarssonJ. A. The Mataco of the Gran Chaco. An ethnografic account of change and continuity in Mataco socio-economic organization Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis 1988 11 1 314

AnggoroF. K.WaxmanS. R.MedinD. L. Naming practices and the acquisition of key biological concepts: Evidence from English and Indonesian Psychological Science 2008 19 314 319

AnggoroF.MedinD.WaxmanS. Language and Experience Influence Children’s Biological Induction Journal of Cognition and Culture 2010 10 171 187

ArenasP. Etnografía y alimentación entre los toba-nachilamole#ek y wichí-lhuku’tas del Chaco Central (Argentina) 2003 Buenos Aires Pastor Arenas

ArenasP.GibertiC. Etnobotánica de Jacaratiacorumbensis O. Kuntze (Caricaceae) y reseña sobre otras plantas acuíferas del Gran Chaco Parodiana 1993 8 185 204

AstutiR.SolomonG. E. A.CareyS. Constraints on conceptual development: a case study of the acquisition of folkbiological and folksociological knowledge in Madagascar Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 2004 69 1 135

AtranS.MedinD. L. The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature 2008 Boston, MA. MIT Press

AtranS.MedinD.LynchE.VapnarskyV.UcanEk’E.SousaP. Folkbiologydoesn’t come from folkpsychology: Evidence from Yukatek Maya in cross-cultural perspective Journal of Cognition and Culture 2001 1 3 42

BangM.MedinD.AtranS. Cultural mosaics and mental models of nature Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007 104 13868 13874

BarúaG. Un arte delicado. Relaciones entre el parentesco el conflicto y el acontecimiento en los Wichí del Gran Chaco Central 2007 Dunken Buenos Aires

BerlinB. Ethnobiological classification: principles of categorization of plants and animals in traditional societies 1992 Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press

BerthenthalB. I. GranrudC. Infants’ perception of biomechanical motions: Intrinsic image andknowledge-based constraints Visual perception and cognition in infancy Carnegie Mellon symposium on cognition 1993 Hillsdale, NJ. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 175 214

BoothA.WaxmanS. R.HuangY. T. Conceptual information permeates word learning in infancy Developmental Psychology 2005 41 491 505

BraunsteinJ. A. Algunos rasgos de la organización social de los indígenas del Gran Chaco Trabajos de Etnología 2 1983 Buenos Aires Universidad de Buenos Aires

CareyS. Conceptual change in childhood 1985 Cambridge, MA. MIT Press

GelmanR. First principles organize attention to and learning about relevant data:Number and the animate-inanimate distinction as examples Cognitive Science 1990 14 79 106

GelmanR.SpelkeE. S.MeckE. RogersD.SlobodaJ. Whatpreschoolers know about animate and inanimate objects The development of symbolic thought 1983 London Plenum 297 328

GelmanR.DurginF.KaufmanL. SperberD.PremackD.PremackA. J. Distinguishing between animates and in animates: Not by motion alone Causal cognition: A multidisciplinary debate 1995 Oxford Clarendon Press 150 194

GelmanS. A.GottfriedG. M. Children’s causal explanations for animate and inanimate motion Child Development 1996 67 1970 1987

GerzensteinA. Variaciones dialectales de algunas unidades del sistema consonántico wichí. In: Tisera, Alicia and Julia Zigarán (comps.) Lenguas yculturas en contacto 2003 Salta CEPIHA, Universidad Nacional de Salta

GolluscioL. Clases de sustantivos y sistema cultural: la posesión en wichí Signo y Seña 1993 3 221 239

HatanoG.InagakiK. Young children’s naïve theory of biology Cognition 1994 50 171 188

HatanoG.InagakiK. MedinD. l.AtranS. A developmental perspective on informal biology Folkbiology 1999 Cambridge, MA. MIT Press 321 354

HatanoG.SieglerR. S.RichardsD. D.InagakiK.StavyR.WaxN. The development of biological knowledge: A multi-national study Cognitive Development 1993 8 47 62

InagakiK.HatanoG. Young children’s recognition of commonalities between animals and plants Child Development 1996 67 2823 2840

JipsonJ.L.GelmanS.A. Robots and rodents: Children’s inferences about living and non-living kinds Child Development 2007 78 1675 1688

JohnsonS. C.SlaughterV.CareyS. Whose gaze will infants follow? Features thatelicitgaze-following in 12-month-olds Developmental Science 1998 1 233 238

KeilF. C. Semantic and conceptual development: an ontological perspective 1979 Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press

KeilF. C. Concepts Kinds and Cognitive Development 1989 Cambridge, MA. MIT Press

KoschitzkyM. Las telas de Malla de los Wichí/Mataco: Su elaboración su función y una posible interpretación de los motivos 1992 Colección Mankacen

KuhlmeierV. A.BloomP.WynnK. Do 5-month-old infants see humans as material objects? Cognition 2004 94 95 103

LeddonE. M.WaxmanS. R.MedinD. L. Unmasking “alive”: Children’s appreciation of a concept linking all living things Journal of Cognition and Development 2008 9 461 473

MarantaA. A. Los recursos vegetales alimenticios de la etnia mataco del Chaco centro occidental Parodiana 1987 5 161 237

MedinD. L.RossN.AtranS.CoxD.ColeyJ.ProffittJ.BlokS. Folkbiology of Freshwater Fish Cognition 2006 99 237 273

NguyenS.GelmanS. Four- and 6-year-olds’ biological concept of death British Journal of Developmental Psychology 2002 20 495 513

NguyenS.RosengrenK. S. Parental reports of children’s biological experiences and misconceptions International Journal of Behavioral Development 2004 28 411 420

OpferJ. E. Identifying living and sentient kinds from dynamic information: The case ofgoal-directed versus aimless autonomous movement in conceptual change Cognition 2002 86 97 122

OpferJ. E.GelmanS. A. Children’s and adult’s models for predicting teleologicalaction: The development of a biology-based model Child Development 2001 72 1367 1381

OpferJ. E.SieglerR. S. Revisiting the living things concept: A microgeneticstudy of conceptual change in basic biology Cognitive Psychology 2004 49 301 332

PalmerJ. Wichí toponomy Hacia una nueva carta étnica del Gran Chaco 1995 6 Las Lomitas Centro del Hombre Antiguo del Chaco (CHACO), Las Lomitas 3 63

PalmerJ. H. La buena voluntad wichí: una espiritualidad indígena 2005 Grupo de trabajo Ruta 81 Las Lomitas

PiagetJ. TomlinsonJ.TomlinsonA. The child’s conception of the world 1929 New York, NY. Harcourt Brace

PolingD. A.EvansE. M. Are dinosaurs the rule or the exception? Developing concepts of death and extinction Cognitive Development 2004 19 363 383

Poulin-DuboisD.ShultzT. R. The infant’s concept of agency: The distinction between social and nonsocial objects Journal of Genetic Psychology 1990 151 77 90

ProffittJ. B.ColeyJ. D.MedinD. L. Expertise and category-based induction Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition 2000 26 811 828

RossN.MedinD. L.ColeyJ. D.AtranS. Cultural and experiential differences in the development of folkbiological induction Cognitive Development 2003 18 25 47

SlaughterV.JaakkolaR.CareyS. SiegalM.PetersonC. Constructing a coherent theory: Children’s biological understanding of life and death Children’s understanding of biology and health 1999 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

SlaughterV.LyonsM. Learning about life and death in early childhood CognitivePsychology 2003 46 1 30

SpringerK.KeilF. On the development of biologically specific beliefs: The case ofinheritance Child Development 1989 60 637 648

SpringerK.KeilF. Early differentiation of causal mechanisms appropriate to biological and non-biological kinds Child Development 1991 62 767 781

SuárezM. E. El análisis de las narrativas en etnobotánica: El “Yuchán” (CEIBA CHODATII, BOMBACACEAE) en el discurso de los Wichís del Chaco semiárido salteño, Argentina Boletín Societa Argentina Botanica 2009 44 405 419

SuárezM. E. MessineoC.ScarpaG. F.TolaF. Fitonimia wichí de especies arbóreas y arbustivas del Chaco Semiárido salteño Léxico y categorización etnobiológica en grupos indígenas del Gran Chaco 2010 Santa Rosa Instituto de Lingüística, Facultad de Ciencias Humanas, Universidad Nacional de La Pampa

SuárezM. E. Fitonimia wichí de plantas herbáceas y bejucos Revista Bonplandia 2011a 20 185 202

SuárezM. E. Léxico etnobotánico y representaciones wichís sobre la vegetación del bosque En Actas del X congreso Argentino de Antropología Social. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras 2011b Buenos Aires Universidad de Buenos Aires

SuárezM. E.MontaniR. Vernacular knowledge of Bromeliaceae species among the Wichí people of the Gran Chaco, Argentina. Journal of Ethnobiology 2010 30 269 292

StavyR.WaxN. Children’s conceptions of plants as living things Human Development 1989 32 88 94

TarlowskiA. If it’s an animal it has axons: Experience and culture in preschool children’s reasoning about animates Cognitive Development 2006 21 249 265

TerrazaJ. Grammaire du wichi: phonologie et morphosyntaxe 2009 Université du Québec à Montréal Montréal Doctoral Thesis

TovarA. El grupo mataco y su relación con otras lenguas de América del Sur Actas del 35a Congreso Internacional de Americanistas 1964 Mexico 439 452 part II

VidalA.NercesianV. Sustantivo y Verbo en wichí Hacia una taxonomía de clases de palabras Liames 2005 5 7 24

VidalA.NercesianV. Estudio del léxico wichí (mataco mataguaya): Aportes al conocimiento de algunas situaciones de contacto y desplazamiento lingüístico en el Chaco argentino Cuadernos Interculturales 2009 7 12 141 158

WaxmanS. R. AhnW.GoldstoneR. L.LoveB. C.MarkmanA. B.WolffP. Why is the concept “Living Thing” so elusive? Concepts, languages, and the development of folkbiology Categorization Inside and Outside the Laboratory: Essays in Honor of Douglas L. Medin 2005 Washington, DC. American PsychologicalAssociation 49 67

WaxmanS. R.MedinD. L. MiyakeN. Core knowledge, naming and the acquisition of the fundamental (folk)biologic concept ‘Alive’ Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Cognitive Science 2006 Mahwah, NJ. Lawrence Erlbaum 53 55

WaxmanS. R.MedinD. L.RossN. Folkbiological reasoning from a cross-cultural developmental perspective: Early essentialist notions are shaped by cultural beliefs Developmental Psychology 2007 43 294 308

WilbertJ.SomoneauK. Folk literature of the Mataco Indians 1982 Los Angeles, Ca. UCLA Latin American Center Publications

WoodwardA. L. Infants’ ability to distinguish between purposeful and non-purposeful behaviors Infant Behavior and Development 1999 22 145 160

WoodwardA. L.PhillipsA.SpelkeE. S. Infants’ expectations about the motion of animate versus inanimate objects Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 1993 Hillsdale, NJ. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 1087 1091

Figures

  • View in gallery
    A schematic depiction of Wichí names for fundamental concepts relative to the natural world. Although the Wichí concept inhabitants of earth does not mean living thing, they are close in meaning. Dotted nodes indicate that terms are still under examination.
  • View in gallery
    Proportion of life status attributions for each category as a function of age. Asterisks indicate a significant difference from chance (*p<0.05, **p<0.001).
  • View in gallery
    Proportion of death attributions for each category as a function of age. Asterisks indicate a significant difference from chance (*p<0.05, **p<0.001).

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 25 25 10
Full Text Views 3 3 3
PDF Downloads 0 0 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0