She Bought the Unicorn From the Pet Store: Six- to Seven-Year-Olds Are Strongly Inclined to Generate Natural Explanations

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Abstract

In two experiments (N = 64), we told 6- to 7-year-olds about improbable or impossible outcomes (Experiment 1) and about impossible outcomes concerning ordinary or magical agents (Experiment 2). In both experiments, children claimed that the outcomes were impossible and could not happen, but nonetheless generated realistic and natural explanations for the outcomes. These findings show that 6- to 7-year-olds are strongly inclined to provide natural explanations. The findings are also informative about children’s judgments about whether outcomes are possible, and further suggest that asymmetries between children’s predictions and explanations may stem from differences in how these 2 forms of reasoning are constrained by possibility.

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