Misconceptions Regarding Emergent Phenomena Vary By Domain


Although the study of how learners approach emergent phenomena is relatively new, a consistent set of misconceptions associated with emergence have been documented. However, little consideration has been given as to whether some misconceptions manifest more frequently in one domain than another, or take on a different character depending on the agents or phenomenon involved. We examined participants' explanations of emergent phenomena from three domains. We found significant differences between domains, showing greater or lesser evidence of misconceptions. We propose that that novices bring prior knowledge, folk psychology, and folk biology to bear in determining the capabilities of the agents involved in a phenomenon, and that these beliefs guide their explanations. We believe that the study of how people perceive emergence would benefit from drawing upon research on folk theories, anthropomorphism, developmental constraints, and other areas that will help us understand how learners characterize agents, environments, and their interactions.

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