The Cognitive Development Lab went across the pond to present some of our most recent findings in London! Kelsey Moty (research associate/lab manager) presented on one of our ongoing child studies at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
In the work presented, we were interested in how children generalize information from an individual to the broader category that the individual belongs to. In particular, we examined whether children were sensitive to the language used to describe the individual. One way we manipulated the language that children heard: Some kids learned that an individual category member (e.g., a markhor) was special because it had a particular feature (e.g., had twisted horns). Other kids, however, heard that the markhor had twisted horns because it’s a markhor. We found that evidence that suggests that children are sensitive to the language used to describe individuals and, as a result, attune their generalizations from the individual to the broader category accordingly. That is, when the individual is described as special, children tend to restrict their generalizations to fewer members of the broader category. But when children hear that individual has the property because it belongs to the category, children make broad generalizations from the individual to many members of the category.