Parents, educators and developmental psychologists have long been interested in how children understand the relationship between human and non-human animals. For decades, the consensus was that as children begin reasoning about the biological world, they adopt only one – markedly ‘anthropocentric’ – vantage point, favouring humans over non-human animals when it comes to learning about properties of animals.
A new study from Northwestern University researchers challenges this long-held assumption. In two experiments, with the results to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 17, research by Patricia Herrmann, Sandra R. Waxman and Douglas L. Medin in the psychology department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences examined the reasoning patterns of children as young as three years of age.
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