An intuition that has been identified as a core concept in folkbiological thought (i.e., intuitive notions about the biological world) is the tendency to view humans as one biological species among many. Previous research has shown that in a category-based induction task, children tend to privilege humans as a basis for inferring that multiple species possess similar biological properties, but that culture and experience can affect the development of these anthropocentric tendencies. It has been assumed that anthropocentrism disappears before adulthood, though very little research has been conducted to test this assumption. In the present research, adults studying oriental medicine, western biology, or western psychology completed a category-based induction task as well as a ‘human patient’ task designed to measure cultural differences in concepts of biological processes. The results showed that anthropocentric reasoning still occurs in adulthood and that there are cultural differences in the likelihood to exhibit these tendencies.
AstutiR.SolomonG. E.CareyS.Constraints on conceptual development: a case study of the acquisition of folkbiological and folksociological knowledge in MadagascarMonographs of the Society for Research in Child Development2004691161
HerrmannP.WaxmanS. R.MedinD. L.Anthropocentrism is not the first step in children’s reasoning about the natural worldProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America201010799799984
MedinD.WaxmanS.WoodringJ.WashinawatokK.Human-centeredness is not a universal feature of young children’s reasoning: Culture and experience matter when reasoning about biological entitiesCognitive Development201025197207
UnsworthS. J.LevinW.BangM.WashinawatokK.WaxmanS.MedinD.Cultural differences in children’s ecological reasoning and psychological closeness to nature: evidence from Menominee and European American childrenJournal of Cognition and Culture2012121729