Gail D. Heyman

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This article examines how language affects children’s inferences about novel social categories. We hypothesized that lexicalization (using a noun label to refer to someone who possesses a certain property) would influence children’s inferences about other people. Specifically, we hypothesized that when a property is lexicalized, it is thought to be more(More)
One hundred one preschool children (ages 3 years 5 months to 4 years 10 months) participated in 3 studies examining the tendency to use verbal labels versus appearance information in making novel inductive inferences. A triad task analogous to that of S. A. Gelman and E. M. Markman (1986) was devised. Participants learned a different property for each of 2(More)
The relation between the way in which children interpret human behavior and their beliefs about the stability of human traits is investigated. In interviews with 202 7- and 8-year-olds across 2 studies, the belief that traits are stable predicted a greater tendency to make trait judgments, and an increased focus on outcomes and behaviors through which(More)
Preschool-age children's reasoning about the reliability of deceptive sources was investigated. Ninety 3- to 5-year-olds watched several trials in which an informant gave advice about the location of a hidden sticker. Informants were either helpers who were happy to give correct advice, or trickers who were happy to give incorrect advice. Three-year-olds(More)
Three studies investigated children's capacity to use trait labels as tools for making inferences about mental states. For example, knowledge that a story character is "nice" as opposed to "mean" could lead to predictions that the character would respond with greater negative affect upon discovering that his or her action had made someone upset. Study 1 (N(More)
The present study investigates children's capacity to understand traits in a psychologically meaningful way. Participants included 18 individuals in each of 4 age groups: kindergarten (ages 5-6), 2nd grade (ages 7-8), 5th grade (ages 10-11), and adult. They heard a series of 6 short stories in which a main character performs an action based on a particular(More)
A key component of critical thinking is the ability to evaluate the statements of other people. Because information that is obtained from others is not always accurate, it is important that children learn to reason about it critically. By as early as age 3, children understand that people sometimes communicate inaccurate information and that some(More)
Essentialism is the belief that certain characteristics (of individuals or categories) may be relatively stable, unchanging, likely to be present at birth, and biologically based. The current studies examined how different essentialist beliefs interrelate. For example, does thinking that a property is innate imply that the property cannot be changed? Four(More)
Young children's beliefs about the relationship between gender and aggression were examined across 3 studies (N=121). In Study 1, preschoolers (ages 3 to 5) described relational aggression as the most common form of aggression among girls and physical aggression as the most common form among boys. In Study 2, preschoolers and a comparison group of 7- to(More)
Children's assessment of the value of different sources of information about psychological traits was investigated among 6- to 7-year-olds and 10- to 11-year-olds across 5 studies (N = 330). Older children were more likely than younger children to reject self-report as a source of information about the highly evaluative traits smart and honest, but no such(More)