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Mechanism-Based Causal Reasoning in Young Children

The hypothesis that children develop an understanding of causal mechanisms was tested across 3 experiments. In Experiment 1 (N = 48), preschoolers had to choose as efficacious either a cause that had worked in the past, but was now disconnected from its effect, or a cause that had failed to work pre... Full description

Journal Title: Child Development 2011, Vol.82(6), p.2053
Main Author: Buchanan, David W
Other Authors: Sobel, David M
Format: Electronic Article Electronic Article
Language: English
Subjects:
ID: ISSN: 0009-3920 ; E-ISSN: 1467-8624 ; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01646.x
Link: http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=EJ946714
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recordid: eric_sEJ946714
title: Mechanism-Based Causal Reasoning in Young Children
format: Article
creator:
  • Buchanan, David W
  • Sobel, David M
subjects:
  • Logical Thinking
  • Preschool Children
  • Age Differences
  • Child Development
  • Medicine
  • Social Welfare & Social Work
  • Sociology & Social History
  • Psychology
ispartof: Child Development, 2011, Vol.82(6), p.2053
description: The hypothesis that children develop an understanding of causal mechanisms was tested across 3 experiments. In Experiment 1 (N = 48), preschoolers had to choose as efficacious either a cause that had worked in the past, but was now disconnected from its effect, or a cause that had failed to work previously, but was now connected. Four-year-olds chose the now-connected cause more often than 3-year-olds. Experiment 2 (N = 16) showed 4-year-olds responded appropriately to an irrelevant modification in the same causal system. Experiment 3 (N = 24) demonstrated when the mechanism was batteries rather than connection, 3-year-olds could properly distinguish between relevant and irrelevant modifications. Together, these data suggest that understanding of specific causal mechanisms develops at different ages.
language: eng
source:
identifier: ISSN: 0009-3920 ; E-ISSN: 1467-8624 ; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01646.x
fulltext: fulltext
issn:
  • 0009-3920
  • 00093920
  • 1467-8624
  • 14678624
url: Link


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descriptionThe hypothesis that children develop an understanding of causal mechanisms was tested across 3 experiments. In Experiment 1 (N = 48), preschoolers had to choose as efficacious either a cause that had worked in the past, but was now disconnected from its effect, or a cause that had failed to work previously, but was now connected. Four-year-olds chose the now-connected cause more often than 3-year-olds. Experiment 2 (N = 16) showed 4-year-olds responded appropriately to an irrelevant modification in the same causal system. Experiment 3 (N = 24) demonstrated when the mechanism was batteries rather than connection, 3-year-olds could properly distinguish between relevant and irrelevant modifications. Together, these data suggest that understanding of specific causal mechanisms develops at different ages.
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The hypothesis that children develop an understanding of causal mechanisms was tested across 3 experiments. In Experiment 1 (N = 48), preschoolers had to choose as efficacious either a cause that had worked in the past, but was now disconnected from its effect, or a cause that had failed to work previously, but was now connected. Four-year-olds chose the now-connected cause more often than 3-year-olds. Experiment 2 (N = 16) showed 4-year-olds responded appropriately to an irrelevant modification in the same causal system. Experiment 3 (N = 24) demonstrated when the mechanism was batteries rather than connection, 3-year-olds could properly distinguish between relevant and irrelevant modifications. Together, these data suggest that understanding of specific causal mechanisms develops at different ages.

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