Was It Designed To Do That? Children's Focus On Intended Function In Their Conceptualization Of Artifacts

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Do young children who seek the conceptual kind of an artifact weigh the plausibility that a current function constitutes the function intended by the object designer? Three- and four-year-olds were encouraged to question adults about novel artifacts. After inquiring about what an object was, some children were shown a function that plausibly accounted for the structural features of the object; others were shown a possible, but implausible function. Children given implausible functions were less satisfied with these responses than those given plausible functions, as shown by their more persistent attempts to ask follow-up questions about function. Accordingly, preschoolers appear to take into account matters of intentional design when assigning artifacts to conceptual kinds. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Artifact concepts, Preschool children, Intentional design

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