Essentialism in Brazilian children's extensions of animal names.

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The present study investigates whether Brazilian children have essentialist beliefs about animal categories. Two groups of Brazilian 4-year-olds (middle class and from shantytowns) were told that 2 animals share either internal or superficial properties. They were then taught labels for the animals. Across conditions, children from both groups were equally likely to interpret the labels as referring to mutually exclusive categories of animals, but they differed on how likely they were to maintain an inclusion relation between the labels. More important, children from both groups were more likely to accept a common label for animals sharing internal than superficial properties, indicating that internal property information convinced children that the animals were of the same kind. These findings were comparable to the results of a recent study by G. Diesendruck, S. A. Gelman, and K. Lebowitz (1998) with North American 4-year-olds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2001


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