Ockham's razor as inductive bias in preschooler's causal explanations

Elizabeth Baraff Bonawitz, Isabel Y. Chang, Catherine Clark, Tania Lombrozo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

A growing literature suggests that generating and evaluating explanations is a key mechanism for learning and development, but little is known about how children evaluate explanations, especially in the absence of probability information or robust prior beliefs. Previous findings demonstrate that adults balance several explanatory virtues in evaluating competing explanations, including simplicity and probability. Specifically, adults treat simplicity as a probabilistic cue that trades-off with frequency information. However, no work has investigated whether children are similarly sensitive to simplicity and probability. We report an experiment investigating how preschoolers evaluate causal explanations, and in particular whether they employ a principle of parsimony like Ockham's razor as an inductive constraint. Results suggest that even preschoolers are sensitive to the simplicity of explanations, and require disproportionate probabilistic evidence before a complex explanation will be favored over a simpler alternative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2008 IEEE 7th International Conference on Development and Learning, ICDL
Pages7-12
Number of pages6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event2008 IEEE 7th International Conference on Development and Learning, ICDL - Monterey, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 9 2008Aug 12 2008

Other

Other2008 IEEE 7th International Conference on Development and Learning, ICDL
CountryUnited States
CityMonterey, CA
Period8/9/088/12/08

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology
  • Computer Science(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Education

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Ockham's razor as inductive bias in preschooler's causal explanations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this