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Cogn Psychol. 2012 May;64(3):186-214. doi: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2011.12.001. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Quantified statements are recalled as generics: evidence from preschool children and adults.

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Department of Philosophy, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, United States.


Generics are sentences such as "ravens are black" and "tigers are striped", which express generalizations concerning kinds. Quantified statements such as "all tigers are striped" or "most ravens are black" also express generalizations, but unlike generics, they specify how many members of the kind have the property in question. Recently, some theorists have proposed that generics express cognitively fundamental/default generalizations, and that quantified statements in contrast express cognitively more sophisticated generalizations (Gelman, 2010; Leslie, 2008). If this hypothesis is correct, then quantified statements may be remembered as generics. This paper presents four studies with 136 preschool children and 118 adults, demonstrating that adults and preschoolers alike tend to recall quantified statements as generics, thus supporting the hypothesis that generics express cognitively default generalizations.

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