Consistent but not diagnostic: Preschoolers' intuitions about shared preferences within social groups

AbstractSocial groups highlight latent structure in the social world and support inductive inferences about individuals. In the present work, we examined children and adults' intuitions about shared preferences within social groups. In Exp.1, 3- to 5-year-old children treated preferences as a consistent property of social groups; that is, children expected members of a social group to like the same toys that other members have liked. However, they did not treat preferences as diagnostic of social groups; they did not expect individuals to belong to a group that shares their preferences. By contrast, in Exp.2, adults readily treated preferences as both a consistent and diagnostic property of social groups. These results suggest that children's inferences about social groups are asymmetric: Children readily infer preferences based on group membership, but not group membership based on preferences.

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