Category structure affects the developmental trajectory of children’s inductive inferences for both natural kinds and artifacts
Badger JR., Shapiro LR.
Inductive reasoning is fundamental to human cognition, yet it remains unclear how we develop this ability and what might influence our inductive choices. We created novel categories in which crucial factors such as domain and category structure were manipulated orthogonally. We trained 403 4- to 9-year-old children to categorize well matched natural kind and artifact stimuli with either featural or relational category structure, followed by induction tasks. This wide age range allowed for the first full exploration of the developmental trajectory of inductive reasoning in both domains. We found a gradual transition from perceptual to categorical induction with age. This pattern was stable across domains, but interestingly, children showed a category bias one year later for relational categories. We hypothesize that the ability to use category information in inductive reasoning develops gradually, but is delayed when children need to process and apply more complex category structures.