Generic statements (e.g., "Lions have manes") make claims about kinds (e.g., lions as a category) and, for adults, are distinct from quantificational statements (e.g., "Most lions have manes"), which make claims about how many individuals have a given property. This article examined whether young children also understand that generics do not depend purely on quantitative information. Five-year-olds (n=36) evaluated pairs of questions expressing properties that were matched in prevalence but varied in whether adults accept them as generically true (e.g., "Do lions have manes?" [true] vs. "Are lions boys?" [false]). Results demonstrated that children evaluate generics based on more than just quantitative information. Data suggest that even young children recognize that generics make claims about kinds.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology