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Psychol Rev. 2004 Oct;111(4):960-83.

The native mind: biological categorization and reasoning in development and across cultures.

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Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60209-2710, USA.


This article describes cross-cultural and developmental research on folk biology: that is, the study of how people conceptualize living kinds. The combination of a conceptual module for biology and cross-cultural comparison brings a new perspective to theories of categorization and reasoning. From the standpoint of cognitive psychology, the authors find that results gathered from standard populations in industrialized societies often fail to generalize to humanity at large. For example, similarity-driven typicality and diversity effects either are not found or pattern differently when one moves beyond undergraduates. From the perspective of folk biology, standard populations may yield misleading results because they represent examples of especially impoverished experience with nature. Certain phenomena are robust across populations, consistent with notions of a core module.

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