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Abstract or Description

Previous studies have shown that preschoolers endorse abstract reasons as causally responsible for familiar biological events for animals (e.g., energy causes movement) but not for machines (Gottfried & Gelman, 2005). These biological phenomena are often explained by vitalistic explanations within a naïve theory of biology (Morris, Taplin, & Gelman, 2000). Understanding the distinction in the categorization of energy and motion of animates and inanimates is important in assessing the role of energy production and transfer. In this study, I examined whether infants categorize animates and inanimates by their differences in energy and motion. Infants at 11-13 and 15-17 months of age were habituated to a casual event between an agent and recipient ball, modeled after Michotte (1963).


Advisor: David Rakison
Degree: B.A. Psychology