Overcoming the positive-capture strategy in young children: learning about indeterminacy.
Two experiments were conducted to examine whether and how 4- and 5-year-olds learn to distinguish determinate from indeterminate evidence. Children were asked to decide whether various patterns of evidence were sufficient to reach unambiguous conclusions. This study replicated the finding that young children tend to use a strategy that, although generally successful, fails on evidence patterns in which a single positive instance co-occurs with an unexplored source of evidence. Experiment 1 demonstrated that this positive-capture strategy is deeply entrenched, even in a meaningful, pragmatic context. With a microgenetic design, Experiment 2 revealed that young children are capable of replacing the positive-capture strategy with a correct strategy when they are exposed to various analogous tasks in several training sessions.