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Examining Biological Explanations in Chinese Preschool Children: A Cross-Cultural Comparison

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Abstract Research with American preschool children has shown that in some core domains – such as naïve biological reasoning – young children’s explanations can sensitively reveal their understanding, at times more sensitively than do their predictions and judgments. However, little is known about children’s explanatory reasoning in cultural contexts outside the U.S. The present study examined Chinese preschool children’s (N=26) explanations for contamination and illness, as well as comparing their performance on parallel explanations and prediction tasks. In addition, their explanations and prediction were directly compared to those from American children (N=36) who responded to parallel and strictly comparable items. Chinese children provided both biological contamination and culturally-specific explanations that referred to unseen mechanisms and processes. Moreover, their explanations were as accurate as their predictions and compared favorably to performance by American children, providing evidence for sophisticated explanatory reasoning among Chinese children as well as cultural similarities and differences in early biological reasoning.

10.1163/15685373-12342085
/content/journals/10.1163/15685373-12342085
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/content/journals/10.1163/15685373-12342085
2013-01-01
2016-12-11

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