When Development and Learning Decrease Memory: Evidence Against Category-Based Induction in Children

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

Inductive inference is crucial for learning: If one learns that a cat has a particular biological property, one could expand this knowledge to other cats. We argue that young children perform induction on the basis of similarity of compared entities, whereas adults may induce on the basis of category information. If different processes underlie induction at different points in development, young children and adults would form different memory traces during induction, and would subsequently have different memory accuracy. Experiment 1 demonstrates that after performing an induction task, 5-year-olds exhibit more accurate memory than adults. Experiment 2 indicates that after 5-year-olds are trained to perform induction in an adult-like manner, their memory accuracy drops to the level of adults. These results, indicating that sometimes 5-year-olds exhibit better memory than adults, support the claim that, unlike adults, young children perform similarity-based rather than category-based induction.




Published In

Psychological Science, 15, 8, 553-558.