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Bilingualism Changes Children’s Beliefs about what is Innate

Title:

Bilingualism Changes Children’s Beliefs about what is Innate

Byers-Heinlein, Krista and Bianca, Garcia (2015) Bilingualism Changes Children’s Beliefs about what is Innate. Developmental Science, 18 (2). pp. 344-350.

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Abstract

Young children engage in essentialist reasoning about natural kinds, believing that many traits
are innately determined. This study investigated whether personal experience with second language acquisition could alter children’s essentialist biases. In a switched-at-birth paradigm, five- and six-year-old monolingual and simultaneous bilingual children expected that a baby’s native language, an animal’s vocalizations, and an animal’s physical traits would match those of a birth rather than an adoptive parent. We predicted that sequential bilingual children, who had been exposed to a new language after age three, would show greater understanding that languages are learned. Surprisingly, sequential bilinguals showed reduced essentialist beliefs about all traits: they were significantly more likely than other children to believe that human language, animal vocalizations, and animal physical traits would be learned through experience rather than innately endowed. These findings suggest that bilingualism in the preschool years can profoundly change children’s essentialist biases.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Authors:Byers-Heinlein, Krista and Bianca, Garcia
Journal or Publication:Developmental Science
Date:2015
ID Code:980270
Deposited By: KRISTA BYERS HEINLEIN
Deposited On:17 Aug 2015 15:27
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:51
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