Preschoolers’ Attention to Social Allegiances When Identifying Social Category Membership
AdvisorGraham, Susan A.
AuthorSwitzer, Jessica L.
Committee MemberCurtin, Suzanne
Madigan, Sheri L.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractOne way that children organize social categories is through an understanding that social categories mark individuals who are socially obligated to one another (Rhodes, 2012a). In this dissertation, I investigated: (1) whether 4- and 5-year-old children infer the social category membership of an individual based on observed relational interactions; (2) whether children use these social categories to guide inductive inferences about related category properties; and (3) whether children require rich linguistic cues to establish meaningful categories from which to make categorical inferences. In Chapter 2, I investigated children’s ability to categorize an individual on the basis of helpful and harmful behaviour directed from a novel social category member to an ambiguous individual whose category membership was not identified. I then asked whether children would generalize a category property to the newly identified member of the category. In Experiment 1, children identified the ambiguous character as belonging to the same category as the individual who helped them, but as belonging to a different social category as the individual who harmed them. Children did not extend the category property to the new member of the category. In Experiment 2, when the category properties were framed as mutually exclusive social conventions, children extended the property to newly identified members of the category. In Experiment 3, I sought to elucidate whether preschoolers require rich linguistic input to form meaningful social categories from which to make categorical inferences. Categories were described without category labels and marked only by spatial segregation and shared properties. Here, children did not identify social category membership on the basis or helpful or harmful behaviour, nor did they generalize category properties. In Chapter 3, I examined whether children infer social category membership on the basis of observed social interactions when categories were labeled with a familiar count-noun. Here, children categorized an ambiguous individual based on harmful, but not helpful, behaviour. The results highlight: (1) children’s ability to infer social category membership on the basis of social interactions; and (2) that children require category information made available via robust linguistic cues to prompt them to attend to social interactions.
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