Explaining to Others Prompts Children to Favor Inductively Rich Properties

Abstract

Three experiments test the hypothesis that engaging in explanation prompts children to favor inductively rich properties when generalizing to novel cases. In Experiment 1, preschoolers prompted to explain during a causal learning task were more likely to override a tendency to generalize according to perceptual similarity and instead extend an internal feature to an object that shared a causal property. In Experiment 2, we replicated this effect of explanation in a case of label extension. Experiment 3 demonstrated that explanation improves memory for internal features and labels, but impairs memory for superficial features. We conclude that explaining can influence learning by prompting children to favor inductively rich properties over surface similarity.


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