Conceptual Change in Naïve Biology

Authored by: Kayoko Inagaki , Giyoo Hatano

International Handbook of Research on Conceptual Change

Print publication date:  June  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415898829
eBook ISBN: 9780203154472
Adobe ISBN: 9781136578212


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The preceding chapters have revealed that young children, at least older preschoolers, possess a naïve theory of biology. Psychologists dealing with other core domains of thought also claim that preschool children have naïve theories about the important aspects of the world; for example, they assert that preschool children have naïve psychology or a theory of mind (e.g., Perner, 1991; Wellman, 1990). However, that children have naïve theories does not mean that their theories are the same as intuitive theories lay adults possess. Because the construction of the initial theory is based on a limited database, it has to be restructured as more and more facts are incorporated into it with increasing age, unless the initial set of observed facts constitutes a representative sample of all relevant facts. Some of the innate or very early tendencies and biases that are helpful at the initial phase may be weakened or given up, as accumulated pieces of prior knowledge come to serve as constraints. This also makes conceptual change or theory change during childhood inevitable.

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