20-month-olds Use Social-Group Membership to Make Inductive Inferences


Previous research suggests that preschool children expect members of social groups to share stable, inherent characteristics (e.g., Waxman, 2013). Here we explored the origins of these social-group based inferences by examining whether infants generalize food preferences across members of an arbitrary social group. Experiment 1 demonstrated that infants expected two individuals to share food preferences when they belonged to the same social group, but not when they belonged to two different social groups. Experiment 2 replicated and extended these findings to social groups that were labeled with adjectives instead of nouns. These results suggest that by 20 months of age, infants use social-group membership to make inductive inferences about the behavior of group members.

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