Developmental changes in children's recognition of the relevance of evidence to causal explanations

Judith H. Danovitch, Candice M. Mills, Ravit Golan Duncan, Allison J. Williams, Lauren N. Girouard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Identifying relevant evidence is necessary to evaluate scientific claims. Two studies explore how children ages 7–10 (n = 98) judge the relevance of different types of observations for evaluating the accuracy of a causal explanation, and how their judgments relate to domain-specific knowledge and other cognitive characteristics. All children recognized that observations involving the same entity and same underlying causal mechanism would be helpful for evaluating a claim. However, children ages 7–8 held a more fragile understanding than children ages 9–10 that observations involving a different entity but the same causal mechanism would be more helpful than observations involving the same entity but a different causal mechanism. Controlling for age, children's biological knowledge also positively related to their recognition of the relevance of scientific evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101017
JournalCognitive Development
Volume58
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Keywords

  • Conceptual development
  • Evidence
  • Explanations
  • Relevance
  • Scientific reasoning

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