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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology