Two studies address children’s emerging understanding of the origins of species. Elementary-school children, aged 5–12 years, were interviewed about their understanding of biological origins and of natural history (Ns = 49 in Study 1; 83, with parents, in Study 2). A systematic developmental pattern in children’s explanations for biological origins was demonstrated. There were age-related shifts from mixed creationist and spontaneous generationist explanations, to an exclusive creationism, and finally to evolutionist or creationist explanations. A child’s age, natural history knowledge, and parents’ beliefs were independently related to the expression of these explanations. It is argued that this developmental pattern emerges from the interaction between community beliefs and age-related changes in the inductive potential of children’s naive theories.
Evans, E. Margaret
"The Emergence of Beliefs About the Origins
of Species in School-Age Children,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 46
, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol46/iss2/4