Do infants and preschoolers quantify probabilities based on proportions?
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17570
Most statistical problems encountered throughout life require the ability to quantify probabilities based on proportions. Recent findings on the early ontogeny of this ability have been mixed: For example, when presented with jars containing preferred and less preferred items, 12-month-olds, but not 3- and 4-years-olds, seem to rely on the proportions of objects in the jars to predict the content of samples randomly drawn out of them. Given these contrasting findings, it remains unclear what the probabilistic reasoning abilities of young children are and how they develop. In our study, we addressed this question and tested, with identical methods across age groups and similar methods to previous studies, whether 12-month-olds and 3- and 4-years-olds rely on proportions of objects to estimate probabilities of random sampling events. Results revealed that neither infants nor preschoolers do. While preschoolers' performance is in line with previous findings, infants' performance is difficult to interpret given their failure in a control condition in which the outcomes happened with certainty rather than a graded probability. More systematic studies are needed to explain why infants succeeded in a previous study but failed in our study.
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