When Diverse Evidence is (and isn’t) Inductively Privileged: The Influence of Evidence Presentation on Children’s and Adults’ Generalization

Chris LawsonUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Abstract

The ability to determine that diverse samples provide better evidence for generalization than non-diverse samples is an important inductive skill. Adults tend to utilize the diversity principle of induction (DP), but evidence regarding children’s ability to do so is mixed. The two experiments reported here examined whether the method by which evidence is presented would have an influence on children’s tendency to obey the DP. These experiments with undergraduates (N = 66, Mage = 21.12 years) and preschoolers (N = 62, Mage = 5.27 years) revealed that whether sample items were presented sequentially or simultaneously influenced diversity-based reasoning in children, and in some cases, adults. Specifically, sequential presentation facilitated diversity-based reasoning, and simultaneous presentation did not. Together these results indicate that processes elicited during the presentation of evidence have an important influence on how children and adults use evidence to make inductive generalizations.

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