Psychological essentialism

Like mother, like daughter: Adults’ judgments about genetic inheritance

We investigated adults’ reasoning about genetic inheritance. We found that adults have a fairly good understanding of how genetic inheritance works, but they reliably have two misunderstandings. The first one is that if the two parents have the same eye color (let's say dark brown) they think that it is more likely for the offspring to have a similar color (dark orange) than a different color (green). The second one is that they think that if the parents have different eye colors, they think that female offspring are more likely to resemble the mother and male offspring are more likely to resemble the father.

Reframing mental illness: The role of essentialism on perceived treatment efficacy and stigmatization

We examine how the framing around mental illness influenced how people thought about them. Describing mental illness with an essentialist framing led adult to think drug treatments (but not talk therapy) would be more effective.

Effects of priming variability on adults learning about metamorphosis

We manipulated perceptions of variability by priming students before a lesson and by highlighting variability in the diagrams used during the lesson. Priming led to more endorsement of metamorphosis, but only among those with high prior knowledge.

Cognitive constraints influence an understanding of life-cycle change

We investigated 3 to 11 year old children and adults’ reasoning about life-cycle changes. The results suggest that endorsement of the different patterns is influenced by age and familiarity.