Preprint version. Published in Child Development, Volume 78, Issue 6, November 1, 2007, pages 1675-1688.
This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Robots and Rodents: Children's Inferences About Living and Nonliving Kinds, Jennifer L. Jipson and Susan A. Gelman, Child Development, 78:6, Copyright © 2007 Society for Research and Child Development. Published by Wiley-Blackwell.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01095.x.
This study tests the firm distinction children are said to make between living and nonliving kinds. Three, 4-, and 5-year-old children and adults reasoned about whether items that varied on 3 dimensions (alive, face, behavior) had a range of properties (biological, psychological, perceptual, artifact, novel, proper names). Findings demonstrate that by 4 years of age, children make clear distinctions between prototypical living and nonliving kinds regardless of the property under consideration. Even 3-year-olds distinguish prototypical living and nonliving kinds when asked about biological properties. When reasoning about nonbiological properties for the full range of items, however, even 5-year-olds and adults occasionally rely on facial features. Thus, the living/nonliving distinction may have more narrow consequences than previously acknowledged.