The Development of Social Essentialism - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128200865

The Development of Social Essentialism, Volume 59

1st Edition

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Serial Volume Editors: Marjorie Rhodes
Hardcover ISBN: 9780128200865
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 1st July 2020
Page Count: 300
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Table of Contents

1. How does social essentialism develop?
Marjorie Rhodes
2. Why do children essentialize social groups?
Gil Diesendruck
3. Contextualizing the development of social essentialism
Kristin Pauker
4. Essentialist belief about nationality categories
Aidan Feeney
5. Kindhood and essentialism: evidence from language
Joshua Knobe
6. Structural explanation: re-thinking social categories
Nadya Vasilyeva
7. The development of moral essentialism and its consequences for law
Larisa Heiphetz
8. Does racial essentialism lead to prejudice? It’s not so black and white
Tara Marissa Mandalaywala


Expecting a gentle baby tiger to inevitably grow up to be ferocious, a young girl growing up in a household of boys to prefer princesses to toy trucks, or that liberals and conservatives are fundamentally different kinds of people, all reflect a conceptual commitment to psychological essentialism. Psychological essentialism is a pervasive conceptual bias to think that some everyday categories reflect the real, underlying, natural structure of the world. Whereas essentialist thought can sometimes be useful, it is often problematic, particularly when people rely on essentialist thinking to understand groups of people, including those based on gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. This Volume will bring together diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives on how essentialist thinking about the social world develops in childhood and on the implications of these beliefs for children’s social behavior and intergroup relations more generally.

Key Features

  • This volume draws on diverse theoretical perspectives from psychology, philosophy, and linguistics, and empirical work from experiments with children and cross-cultural studies to provide a comprehensive view of how social essentialism develops.
  • This volume addresses the link between cognition (essentialist beliefs) and social behavior, with implications for prejudice, morality, the justice system, and inter-group relations.
  • By drawing on a diverse evidence base, this volume addresses how beliefs emerge from the interplay among children’s conceptual biases and their social experiences.


Scholars and students from developmental, cognitive, and social psychology; philosophy; linguistics; and anthropology


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2020
1st July 2020
Academic Press
Hardcover ISBN:

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About the Serial Volume Editors

Marjorie Rhodes

Marjorie Rhodes

Marjorie Rhodes is an Associate Professor of Psychology at New York University. She received her Ph.D. in 2009 from the University of Michigan. Dr. Rhodes’ research examines the processes underlying conceptual development and the development of social cognition. She has conducted groundbreaking research on how essentialist beliefs develop and their implications for social behavior and intergroup relations. Dr. Rhodes research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, and Beyond Conflict Innovation Lab, and published in leading journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Psychological Science, Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and Cognitive Psychology. She is the recipient of the 2017 Boyd McCandless Award for early career contributions to developmental psychology from the American Psychological Association and the 2017 Steve Reznick Early Career Award from the Cognitive Development Society. She directs research labs in the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the American Museum of Natural History, and online at:

Affiliations and Expertise

New York University, USA