Quantified statements are recalled as generics: Evidence from preschool children and adults

Sarah Jane Leslie, Susan A. Gelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Generics are sentences such as " ravens are black" and " tigers are striped" , which express generalizations concerning kinds. Quantified statements such as " all tigers are striped" or " most ravens are black" also express generalizations, but unlike generics, they specify how many members of the kind have the property in question. Recently, some theorists have proposed that generics express cognitively fundamental/default generalizations, and that quantified statements in contrast express cognitively more sophisticated generalizations (Gelman, 2010; Leslie, 2008). If this hypothesis is correct, then quantified statements may be remembered as generics. This paper presents four studies with 136 preschool children and 118 adults, demonstrating that adults and preschoolers alike tend to recall quantified statements as generics, thus supporting the hypothesis that generics express cognitively default generalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-214
Number of pages29
JournalCognitive Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


  • Children
  • Generics
  • Memory
  • Quantifiers
  • Semantics


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