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The Essential ChildOrigins of Essentialism in Everyday Thought$
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Susan A. Gelman

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195154061

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195154061.001.0001

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Theory Theories and DAM Theories

Theory Theories and DAM Theories

(p.239) Chapter 9 Theory Theories and DAM Theories
The Essential Child

Susan A. Gelman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Childhood essentialism has implications for theories on cognitive development. There is wide-ranging evidence for what may be called “early competence”. Preschool children appear to be surprisingly skilled: they attend to nonobvious properties, search for underlying causes, draw systematic category-based inferences, and so forth. This chapter discusses why and how children show early competence. This question is approached in two ways, one by reconciling these findings with the seemingly contradictory results from other tasks. The other is by considering which of two radically different accounts best explains why children show this early competence: the theory theory view or the “dumb attentional mechanisms” view. A brief summary of theory-laden essentialism is presented as a launching point from which to consider alternative views.

Keywords:   essentialism, children, child psychology, theory theories, early competence, dumb attentional mechanism theories

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