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December 2021

Intuitive theories in children's thinking

Journal/Book: Z Entwicklungspsychol Padago. 1999; 31: Rohnsweg 25, D-37085 Gottingen, Germany. Hogrefe & Huber Publishers. 53-66.

Abstract: Research on intuitive theories of children has become increasingly important in cognitive developmental psychology. The following article provides an overview of empirical results on children's knowledge development in the three major domains, intuitive physics, biology, and psychology. Based on these findings, we discuss whether the knowledge of children in the different domains is properly viewed as a theory. The relevant criteria for answering this question are as follows: (a) Are children able to precisely define and differentiate important domain-specific ontological entities? and (b) Do they have an idea of the domain-specific causal explanatory framework? Heterogeneous empirical results and differing interpretations make answering difficult. Nevertheless, the research on intuitive theories has deepened our insight into the world view and competencies of infants, pre- and gradeschoolers.

Note: Review Mahler C, Univ Gottingen, Georg Elias Muller Inst Psychol, Abt Padag Psychol & Entwicklungspsychol, Waldweg 26, D-37073 Gottingen, GERMANY

Keyword(s): intuitive theories (physics, biology, psychology); cognitive development; domain-specific knowledge; COGNITIVE-DEVELOPMENT; REALITY DISTINCTION; PROJECTILE MOTION; INTERNAL STATES; YOUNG-CHILDREN; PRETEND PLAY; MENTAL STATE; NAIVE THEORY; MIND; KNOWLEDGE


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