Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning is logical thinking that operates from specific cases to general principles. For example, a preschooler might conclude that dolphins are fish because they live in water and swim as fish do. As children develop more sophisticated thinking, they are able to employ deductive reasoning, in which they use general principles to form hypotheses. Adolescents, for example, might have heard that dolphins are mammals. They could test this hypothesis by identifying the definition of mammal and testing whether it applies to dolphins.

Inductive reasoning as applied to child development has an additional meaning that is very different from the one described above. Inductive reasoning, also called induction, is the kind of reasoning used by parents to help children understand the effect of their behavior on others. For example, a parent might say to a preschool-aged child, ''When you throw sand on your friend he feels very sad and doesn't want to play with you anymore.'' Research demonstrates that this parental control technique, induction, is associated with higher levels of social competence in children than when parents use coercion or ''love withdrawal'' (Rollins and Thomas 1979).

See also: LEARNING


Berger, Kathleen. The Developing Person through the Life Span, 5th edition. New York: Worth Publishers, 2000. Hoffman, Martin. ''Affective and Cognitive Processes in Moral Internalization." In E. T. Higgins, D. N. Ruble, and W. W. Har-tup eds., Social Cognition and Social Development: A Sociocultural Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Rollins, Boyd, and Darwin Thomas. ''Parental Support, Power, and Control Techniques in the Socialization of Children.'' In Wesley Burr, Reuben Hill, F. Ivan Nye, and Ira Reiss eds., Contemporary Theories about the Family. New York: Free Press, 1979.

H. Wallace Goddard


Infancy, the period between birth and eighteen to twenty-four months, has fascinated parents, philosophers, and developmental scientists perhaps more than any other period of the lifespan. The study of infants allows us to understand the origins of physical and psychological life. Furthermore, during no other period of life are physical and psychological changes more pervasive and rapid than in infancy.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, William James, an influential philosopher, psychologist, and parent, remarked that the world of the infant is a ''blooming, buzzing, confusion.'' Throughout the twentieth century, researchers devised ingenious methods to study the infant and found that James severely underestimated the infant. We know now that infants' capacities are quite sophisticated in several domains, including perception, cognition, and emotion. Furthermore, infants' capacities in these domains and others continue to develop in infancy and beyond. Below are summaries of some of the key findings that scientists have uncovered about infants in several domains. The boundaries between these domains are somewhat artificial and arbitrary, but they nevertheless allow for an orderly arrangement of some of what is known about the human infant.

Physical Development

The infant's physical structure and central nervous system undergo dramatic and rapid change during the first two years of life. The infant's weight doubles by five months of age, triples by twelve months of age, and quadruples by the age of twenty-four months. The infant's length does not change as rapidly as its weight, for the infant's length at birth is already 75 percent of what it will be at two years of age. Changes in length and weight are accompanied by transformations in the infant's body proportions. The head grows the fastest and matures the earliest, followed by the rest of the body downward (e.g., the neck, torso, legs). In addition, those parts that are closest to the center of the infant's body (e.g., the trunk) grow faster and mature earlier than do parts that are farther from the center (e.g., the hands). The rapid changes in infants' body proportions affect other domains of development, including perceptual, motor, cognitive, and emotional.

The physical structure of the brain develops rapidly as well. Although a human is born with almost all of the neurons that he or she will ever have, the human brain triples in weight by age three and quadruples in weight by age fourteen. Two primary reasons account for this dramatic change in the brain's weight and size. First, a fatty substance called myelin forms around a part of the neuron, causing substantial growth of the brain and increasing its neural conduction. Second, a part of the neuron called the dendrite branches multiple times, creating numerous synapses or connections with other neurons. It is for these reasons that a brain that weighs 370 grams (13 ounces) at birth will weigh 1,080 grams (38 ounces) by the age of three.

At one time, scientists assumed that the new-born's brain was ''hard-wired'' and that the environment played little, if any, role in its development. Researchers studying human and nonhuman species have provided overwhelming evidence that experience does, in fact, play a powerful and enduring role in the infant's brain development. The infant's experiences ''mold'' the brain by preserving active synapses and pruning less active or inactive ones. Interestingly, researchers have found sensitive periods in which the brain is affected by experience more so than at other times.

Perceptual and Motor Development

At birth, infants' sensory systems are available for processing perceptual information from the world and from their own bodies, but each system operates, for the most part, within a more limited range than later in infancy. Newborns' senses of taste and smell are particularly well established; in the first two weeks of life, infants can discriminate among sweet, sour, and bitter tastes, and can recognize the smell of their mother's milk. Infants' hearing is also relatively mature at birth, although the loudness threshold for detecting sound is ten to twenty decibels higher in newborns than in adults. Young infants are highly attuned to human voices, especially their mother's. In addition, infants localize sounds, and by the end of their first month, if not sooner, they differentiate speech sounds in a manner comparable to adults. In fact, one-month-olds across cultures differentiate speech sounds not evident in their particular native languages. Thus, young infants demonstrate a wider range of speech sound sensitivity than adults; by ten to twelve months, however, infants' sensitivity to speech sounds narrows and conforms to their native language.

From birth, infants demonstrate distinct preferences for the human face and are especially attuned to moving rather than static stimuli. By two months, infants' color vision is well established. At the same time, infants can process depth information by some cues, a capacity that continues to develop into the middle of the first year. Infants' overall visual acuity, however, is much more limited than that of adults. In the first two to three months, infants cannot discrimi

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  • laura
    How to develop in inductive reasoning?
    1 year ago
  • Cottar
    What is inductive method of teaching in child growth?
    9 months ago
  • teija halonen
    Do children have inductive or deductive reasoning?
    6 months ago
  • Fabiana
    Can parents use inductive or deductive arguments to teach and work with children?
    6 months ago

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