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Is psychological essentialism an inherent feature of human cognition?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2014

Christopher Y. Olivola
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213colivola@andrew.cmu.edu
Edouard Machery
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. machery@pitt.edu


Recent evidence shows that psychological essentialism is neither a universal nor stable feature of human cognition. The extent to which people report essentialist intuitions varies enormously across cultures and education levels, and is also influenced by subtle, normatively irrelevant contextual manipulations. These results challenge the notion that the human mind is “fitted” with a built-in inherence heuristic that produces essentialist intuitions.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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