Children Prefer Diverse Samples For Inductive Reasoning In The Social Domain

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Child Development


Not all samples of evidence are equally conclusive: Diverse evidence is more representative than narrow evidence. Prior research showed that children did not use sample diversity in evidence selection tasks, indiscriminately choosing diverse or narrow sets (tiger–mouse; tiger–lion) to learn about animals. This failure is not due to a general deficit of inductive reasoning, but reflects children's belief about the category and property at test. Five- to 7 year-olds' inductive reasoning (n = 65) was tested in two categories (animal, people) and properties (toy preference, biological property). As stated earlier, children ignored diverse evidence when learning about animals' biological properties. When learning about people's toy preferences, however, children selected the diverse samples, providing the most compelling evidence to date of spontaneous selection of diverse evidence.