A time for a meal? Children's conceptions of short-term and long-term effects of foods


Journal Article


Jean-Pierre Thibaut, Jérémie Lafraire, & Damien Foinant




A time for a meal? Children's conceptions of short-term and long-term effects of foods

Journal / book / conference

Cognitive Development


From early ages, children build concepts of food categories, classify foods according to various points of view (e.g., taxonomic or thematic), and reason about them (e.g., Nguyen, 2008; Nguyen & Murphy, 2003). However, theory-based reasoning regarding food seems to develop more slowly than categorization. Even adults refer to poorly-articulated explanatory concepts such as vitalism (Slaughter & Ting, 2010). In two experiments, we assessed 6-, 8-, 10-year-old children’s understanding of short- and long-term effects of foods. We asked the children to chose between series of long-term (eating quite often) and short-term (eating yesterday) effects of food. The key issue was whether six-year-old participants would distinguish between time-based food effects or would remain unspecific as would be suggested by the vitalism view according to which there is some vital power that is taken from food and water and makes humans active. Results showed that younger children could differentiate short- and long-term causes and effects of foods, even though less clearly than older children could. Results are discussed in terms of the development of the naïve theories. Former results are reinterpreted in terms of the collected data.




Cognitive development, Food cognition, Conceptual development, Children's naive theories

relative links

  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0885201420300393


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