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The Essential ChildOrigins of Essentialism in Everyday Thought$
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Susan A. Gelman

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195154061

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195154061.001.0001

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Children's Conceptions of Nature and Nurture

Children's Conceptions of Nature and Nurture

Chapter:
(p.89) Chapter 4 Children's Conceptions of Nature and Nurture
Source:
The Essential Child
Author(s):

Susan A. Gelman (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195154061.003.0005

Inheritance plays an important role in adults' everyday thoughts about social categories. When people think about identity, they often assume that properties are passed down from parent to child, independent of social or environmental influences. In this sense social identity may be construed as natural. This chapter argues that children view membership in certain categories as natural, and that young children appeal to inheritance and innate potential when they essentialize. They display rather elaborate beliefs that kinship overrides outward similarity, that inborn traits may be inherited, and that birth parents are more important than adoptive parents in determining growth and development. The main point is that children understand certain categories in terms of embodied, inherited, natural differences.

Keywords:   essentialism, children, child psychology, nature, nurture, inheritance, conceptions, categories

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