Do Lions Have Manes? For Children, Generics Are About Kinds Rather Than Quantities

Amanda C. Brandone, Andrei Cimpian, Sarah Jane Leslie, Susan A. Gelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-433
Number of pages11
JournalChild development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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