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The developmental origins of causal thought and its relevance to intuitive reasoning

English title The developmental origins of causal thought and its relevance to intuitive reasoning
Applicant Cacchione Trix
Number 144897
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie Institut für Psychologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.09.2013 - 30.09.2017
Approved amount 1'252'406.00
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Keywords (8)

causal cognition ; cognitive development; agency; folk theories; intuitive biology; conceptual development; intuitive physics; core knowledge

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Projekt untersucht den Einfluss kausaler Erklärungsprinzipien auf naturwissenschaftliche Alltagskonzepte von Kindern und Erwachsenen.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziele des Projektes

Die Forschung der letzten Jahrzehnte hat gezeigt, dass das menschliche Denken in verschiedenen inhaltlichen Domänen (z.B. Physik, Biologie) von der frühen Kindheit an auf kausalen Erklärungsprinzipien basiert. Viele der in den letzten Jahren beschriebenen kausalen Erklärungsprinzipien weisen eine Familienähnlichkeit auf. Beispielsweise gehen Kinder davon aus, dass kausale Faktoren aktiv, zielgerichtet und determinierend sind. Weiter nehmen sie an, dass kausale Energie eine den Lebewesen und Gegenständen innewohnende Qualität ist und dass diese wie eine Substanz übertragen werden kann. Im Projekt wird untersucht, ob sich die bekannten Erklärungsprinzipien auf ein gemeinsames kausales Kernmodell zurückführen lassen, welches aus der eigenen aktiven und zielgerichteten Körpererfahrung (z.B. wenn ein Kind an einem Objekt einen Effekt bewirkt) abgeleitet werden kann. Weiter wird untersucht, wie sich diese basalen Erklärungsprinzipien unter dem Einfluss des in der Schule erworbenen formalen Wissens bis zum Erwachsenenalter hin weiterentwickeln.

 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Das Projekt leistet einen wichtigen Beitrag zum besseren Verständnis des Zusammenspiels von intuitivem und formal wissenschaftlichem Denken. Dies unterstützt die Entwicklung und Optimierung von Lehrmaterialien und –methoden im Bereich der naturwissenschaftlichen Bildung.

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.07.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Comparative metaphysics: Evolutionary and ontogenetic roots of essentialist thought about objects
Rakoczy Hannes, Cacchione Trix (2019), Comparative metaphysics: Evolutionary and ontogenetic roots of essentialist thought about objects, in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 10(5), e1497-e1497.
Domestic horses (Equus ferus caballus) fail to intuitively reason about object properties like solidity and weight
Haemmerli Sarah, Thill Corinne, Amici Federica, Cacchione Trix (2018), Domestic horses (Equus ferus caballus) fail to intuitively reason about object properties like solidity and weight, in Animal Cognition, 21(3), 441-446.
Phylogenetic and ontogenetic roots of psychological essentialism
Rakoczy Hannes, Cacchione Trix (2018), Phylogenetic and ontogenetic roots of psychological essentialism, in Vonk Jennifer, Shackelford Todd K. (ed.), Springer, New York, 1-7.
Comparative metaphysics: Thinking about objects in space and time
Cacchione Trix, Rakoczy Hannes (2017), Comparative metaphysics: Thinking about objects in space and time, in Call Josep (Editor in chief) (ed.), American Psychological Association, Washington, 579-600.
Understanding of object properties by sloth bears (Melursus ursinus ursinus)
Amici Federica, Bueno-Guerra Nereida, Cacchione Trix (2017), Understanding of object properties by sloth bears (Melursus ursinus ursinus), in Animal Behaviour, 217-222.
Are apes essentialists? Scope and limits of psychological essentialism in great apes.
Cacchione T., Hrubesch C., Call J., Rakoczy H. (2016), Are apes essentialists? Scope and limits of psychological essentialism in great apes., in Animal Cognition, 9(5), 921-937.
The developmental and evolutionary origins of psychological essentialism lie in sortal object individuation
Rakoczy Hannes, Cacchione Trix (2014), The developmental and evolutionary origins of psychological essentialism lie in sortal object individuation, in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37, 500-501.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
UCL, Division of Psychology and Language (Dr. Anne Schlottmann) Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- Publication
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany (Dr. J. Call; Dr. F. Amici) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
UNIL (Christine Mohr) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
University of Goettingen (Prof. H. Rakoczy) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Science of Magic meeting Talk given at a conference Is it all Fake Magic or all True Magic? Adults and children fail to distinguish between “real” and “fake” magic. 31.08.2017 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Cacchione Trix;
The 2017 Conference of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology (ESPP); Invited Symposium (N001): The origins and implications of essentialist beliefs Talk given at a conference Is object individuation a primordial form of psychological essentialism? 14.08.2017 Hertfordshire, London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Cacchione Trix;
38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society Poster The use of dispositional cues to causality in judgments of mechanical and living interactions 13.08.2016 Philadelphia, United States of America Cacchione Trix; Abbaspour Sufi; Schneider Julia;
Cognitive Science Workshop Emergent Meaning Poster Differential reliance on the causal core concept in the domain of physics and biology 10.08.2016 Bethlehem, PA, United States of America Cacchione Trix; Abbaspour Sufi; Schneider Julia;
International Conference on Thinking Poster Differential reliance on the causal core concept in the domain of physics and biology: a revised study 06.08.2016 Providence, RI, United States of America Cacchione Trix; Abbaspour Sufi; Schneider Julia;
24th Biennal Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development Poster Children use a dispositional core concept when identifying causality in non-mechanical events 14.07.2016 Vilnius, Lithuania Abbaspour Sufi; Schneider Julia; Cacchione Trix;
24th Biennal Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development Poster Disentangling the causal train of thought 14.07.2016 Vilnius, Lithuania Schneider Julia; Cacchione Trix; Abbaspour Sufi;
CEU Individual talk Transtemporal identity judgment in infants and great apes: Is object individuation a promordial form of psychological essentialism 30.03.2016 Budapest, Hungary Cacchione Trix;
5th Annual Conference on Cognitive Development Poster Differential reliance on the causal core concept in the domain of physics and biology: a revised study 09.01.2016 Budapest, Hungary Schneider Julia; Abbaspour Sufi; Cacchione Trix;
CEU Conference on Cognitive Development Poster Children use a dispositional core concept when identifying causality 08.01.2016 Budapest, Hungary Schneider Julia; Abbaspour Sufi; Cacchione Trix;
Cognitive biases in magical belief Talk given at a conference Do human infants judge object identity on the base of essential properties? 25.03.2015 Lausanne, Switzerland Cacchione Trix;
The evolutionary, developmental and cognitive foundations of psychological essentialism Talk given at a conference Human infants and great apes judge object identity on the base of essential properties 03.07.2014 Berlin, Germany Cacchione Trix;
Institutskolloquium Individual talk Das ABC der intuitiven Physik 17.04.2014 Bern, Switzerland Cacchione Trix;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
MINDS OF ANIMALS: REFLECTIONS ON THE HUMAN - NON-HUMAN CONTINUUM 27.09.2016 Bern, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Wie Kinder sich und die Welt sehen Workshop 20.11.2014 Ebikon, Switzerland Cacchione Trix;
Wie Kinder sich und die Welt sehen Workshop 08.05.2014 Luzern, Switzerland Cacchione Trix;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Menschen und andere Primaten, Ringvorlesung 05.10.2016 Bern, Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126320 Core knowledge revisited: Effects of fission, fusion and shape transformation on infants’ ability to represent inanimate and animate objects 01.11.2009 Ambizione

Abstract

The present project deals with the developmental origins of causal reasoning in children. It proposes a specific view to account for the observation that many adults, even well educated experts, never fully abandon the intuitive thought processes of childhood. According to this view, the core foundation of causal thought, which is inconsistent with Newtonian mechanics, guides causal reasoning and the building of folk theories over the entire life span. Specifically, it suggests that a set of core causal constraints pervasively shapes humans’ causal perception, causal language, and cognition. These core constraints include (i) the principle of asymmetric causation that biases humans to interpret causal relations asymmetrically as an agent acting against the resistance of a patient to produce an effect, (ii) the principle of transmission causality that denotes the folk causal notion that agents impose their own causative properties on the patient and (iii) the core ontological distinction between agents (entities who bear/transmit causal energy) and patients (entities who receive/borrow causal energy). The proposed project aims to empirically test the hypothesis that these basic causal elements yield several causal-explanatory principles (i.e., teleology, essentialism, vitalism, impetus) and two common biases (i.e., animistic category error, direct causality bias) in the core domains of intuitive physics and biology. Further, the proposed project shall investigate the hypothesis that these core causal constraints are never fully abandoned, but implicitly coexist with scientific knowledge acquired later in development. To trace the expected inhibitory effects both implicit and explicit behavioral measures shall be employed.
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