Parents, educators and developmental psychologists have long been interested in how children understand the relationship between human and non-human animals.
For decades, the consensus was that as children begin reasoning about the biological world, they adopt only one -- markedly "anthropocentric" -- vantage point, favoring humans over non-human animals when it comes to learning about properties of animals.
A new study from Northwestern University researchers challenges this long-held assumption. In two experiments, with the results to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 17, research by Patricia Herrmann, Sandra R. Waxman and Douglas L. Medin in the psychology department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences examined the reasoning patterns of children as young as three years of age.
The results were striking: Although 5-year-olds adopted an anthropocentric perspective (replicating earlier studies), 3-year-olds showed no hint of anthropocentrism. This outcome, considered in conjunction with recent cross-cultural evidence including Native American children, suggests a new model of development: Human-centered reasoning is not an obligatory starting point for development, as researchers and educators had previously assumed.
Instead, it is an acquired perspective, one that emerges between three and five years of age in children raised in urban environments and one that likely reflects young children's keen sensitivity to the perspectives that are presented to them, however informally, within their communities and in the media for young children (e.g., stories and films in which animals talk, sing and act like humans).
The researchers say that perhaps most importantly, this new evidence has strong and direct implications for early science education.
"If young children's fundamental perspectives on the biological world -- and the place of humans within it -- are sensitive to the experiences, beliefs and practices of their communities, then by the time they enter school, children from different backgrounds may harbor different perspectives," said Sandra Waxman, a co-author and professor of psychology. "If we are to design more effective science curricula, then it is incumbent upon us to understand the diverse perspectives that even the very youngest children bring with them as they enter their classrooms."
Hilary Hurd Anyaso | EurekAlert!
Obstructing the ‘inner eye’
07.07.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy