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date: 08 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Research on the development of causal reasoning has broadly focused on accomplishing two goals: understanding the origins of causal reasoning, and examining how causal reasoning changes with development. This chapter reviews evidence and theory that aim to fulfill both of these objectives. In the first section, it focuses on the research that explores the possible precedents for recognizing causal events in the world, reviewing evidence for three distinct mechanisms in early causal reasoning: physical launching events, agents and their actions, and covariation information. The second portion of the chapter examines the question of how older children learn about specific causal relationships. It focuses on the role of patterns of statistical evidence in guiding learning about causal structure, suggesting that even very young children leverage strong inductive biases with patterns of data to inform their inferences about causal events, and discussing ways in which children’s spontaneous play supports causal learning.

Keywords: development, causal reasoning, learning, induction, bias

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