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Child Dev. 1993 Dec;64(6):1617-36.

Reflecting on scientific thinking: children's understanding of the hypothesis-evidence relation.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Sussex at Brighton, Falmer, UK.


3 experiments were carried out to examine children's understanding of the role of covariation evidence in hypothesis formation. Previous research suggested that it is not until 8 to 11 years of age that children begin to understand how a given pattern of covariation supports a particular hypothesis about which factor is causally responsible for an observed effect. Experiments 1 to 3 employed a different (fake evidence) technique than previous research and showed that by 6 years of age most children understand how evidence would lead a story character to form a different hypothesis than the subject's own. Experiment 3 showed that most 6- and young 7-year-olds understand how a character's future actions (e.g., choice of an object) and predictions of future outcomes depend on the hypothesis he or she holds.

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