Core Knowledge Theories

• Core Knowledge Theories
– Some types of knowledge are innate or are
learned very quickly
• Ex: objects follow continuous paths through space
(object continuity); two objects cannot occupy the
same space ( object solidity)
– Infants/young children develop “naïve” theories
in certain domains (areas) based on this
• Ex: theory of physics (knowledge of the physical
properties of objects)
Domains in which infants/young children
have “core knowledge” are adaptive for
survival from an evolutionary perspective
Exs: knowledge of people, knowledge of living
things, knowledge of objects
• Violation of Expectation Method
– Based on infants’ preference for novel stimuli
– Habituate infants to a “possible” physical event
• Habituation: Decrease in response due to repeated
presentation of a stimulus
– Present a “possible” and “impossible” event
• Measure infants’ looking time to each event
– If infants look longer at “impossible” event,
assumed they have an understanding of the
concept (e.g., object solidity, object continuity)
– Based on findings using the VOE method, core
knowledge theorists argue that some types of
object knowledge are innate or emerge very
early without direct experience with objects
• Very different than Piaget’s view!
• But violation-of-expectation method is
– Does longer looking time to an “impossible” event
indicate full understanding of a concept?
– Does it reflect a preference for novel visual stimuli?
• “Perception and knowing are not the same thing. . . A person
can regard an event as odd without knowing why” (Haith,