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Cognition. 2008 Aug;108(2):543-56. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.03.002. Epub 2008 Apr 23.

Sample diversity and premise typicality in inductive reasoning: evidence for developmental change.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043, USA.


Evaluating whether a limited sample of evidence provides a good basis for induction is a critical cognitive task. We hypothesized that whereas adults evaluate the inductive strength of samples containing multiple pieces of evidence by attending to the relations among the exemplars (e.g., sample diversity), six-year-olds would attend to the degree to which each individual exemplar in a sample independently appears informative (e.g., premise typicality). To test these hypotheses, participants were asked to select between diverse and non-diverse samples to help them learn about basic-level animal categories. Across various between-subject conditions (N=133), we varied the typicality present in the diverse and non-diverse samples. We found that adults reliably selected to examine diverse over non-diverse samples, regardless of exemplar typicality, six-year-olds preferred to examine samples containing typical exemplars, regardless of sample diversity, and nine-year-olds were somewhat in the midst of this developmental transition.

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