Evidential diversity and premise probability in young children's inductive judgment

Yafen Lo, Ashley Sides, Joseph Rozelle, Daniel Osherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


A familiar adage in the philosophy of science is that general hypotheses are better supported by varied evidence than by uniform evidence. Several studies suggest that young children do not respect this principle, and thus suffer from a defect in their inductive methodology. We argue that the diversity principle does not have the normative status that psychologists attribute to it, and should be replaced by a simple rule of probability. We then report experiments designed to detect conformity to the latter rule in children's inductive judgment. The results suggest that young children in both the United States and Taiwan are sensitive to the constraints imposed by the rule on judgments of probability and evidential strength. We conclude with a suggested reinterpretation of the thesis that children's inductive methodology qualifies them as "little scientists."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-206
Number of pages26
JournalCognitive science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Cognitive development
  • Human experimentation
  • Psychology


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