Developmental Psychology Colloquium Causal framing supports young children’s analogical reasoning 

February 6, 2017 • 12:00pm–1:30pm • 3105 Tolman Hall

Mariel Goddu, Graduate Student in Department of Psychology

Abstract: My recent work challenges some previous assumptions about young children’s analogical reasoning abilities. Although much of the literature suggests that three- and four-year-olds are poor at reasoning about abstract relations, here I report results from 4 studies demonstrating that context may be critical. When children are presented with relational reasoning tasks in a traditional, non-causal format, they fail; however, when they encounter the same information in a causal format—where relations are operationalized as the starting and ending states of a causal transformation—they succeed. These findings provide insight into how relational reasoning may develop in children’s everyday experience, where explicit cues such as labeling and multiple exemplars may be sparse.