Generics (e.g., "Ravens are black") express generalizations about categories or their members. Previous research found that generics about animals are interpreted as broadly true of members of a kind, yet also accepted based on minimal evidence. This asymmetry is important for suggesting a mechanism by which unfounded generalizations may flourish; yet, little is known whether this finding extends to generics about groups of people (heretofore, "social generics"). Accordingly, in four preregistered studies (n = 665), we tested for an inferential asymmetry for generics regarding novel groups of animals versus people. Participants were randomly assigned to either an Implied Prevalence task (given a generic, asked to estimate the prevalence of a property) or a Truth-Conditions task (given prevalence information, asked whether a generic was true or false). A generic asymmetry was found in both domains, at equivalent levels. The asymmetry also extended to properties varying in valence (dangerous and neutral). Finally, there were differences as a function of property valence in the Implied Prevalence task and a small but consistent interaction between domain and prevalence in the Truth-Conditions task. We discuss the implications of these results for the semantics of generics, theoretical accounts of the asymmetry, and the relation between generics and stereotyping.

Generic Language for Social and Animal Kinds: An Examination of the Asymmetry Between Acceptance and Inferences / Cella, F.; Marchak, K. A.; Bianchi, C.; Gelman, S. A.. - In: COGNITIVE SCIENCE. - ISSN 1551-6709. - 46:12(2022), pp. 1-36. [10.1111/cogs.13209]

Generic Language for Social and Animal Kinds: An Examination of the Asymmetry Between Acceptance and Inferences

Bianchi C.;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Generics (e.g., "Ravens are black") express generalizations about categories or their members. Previous research found that generics about animals are interpreted as broadly true of members of a kind, yet also accepted based on minimal evidence. This asymmetry is important for suggesting a mechanism by which unfounded generalizations may flourish; yet, little is known whether this finding extends to generics about groups of people (heretofore, "social generics"). Accordingly, in four preregistered studies (n = 665), we tested for an inferential asymmetry for generics regarding novel groups of animals versus people. Participants were randomly assigned to either an Implied Prevalence task (given a generic, asked to estimate the prevalence of a property) or a Truth-Conditions task (given prevalence information, asked whether a generic was true or false). A generic asymmetry was found in both domains, at equivalent levels. The asymmetry also extended to properties varying in valence (dangerous and neutral). Finally, there were differences as a function of property valence in the Implied Prevalence task and a small but consistent interaction between domain and prevalence in the Truth-Conditions task. We discuss the implications of these results for the semantics of generics, theoretical accounts of the asymmetry, and the relation between generics and stereotyping.
2022
Animal categories
Conceptual domains
Generic language
Social categories
Stereotyping
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11768/135798
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