Young children's naïve beliefs about physics are commonly studied as isolated pieces of knowledge. The current paper takes a different approach. It asks whether preschoolers interlink individual beliefs into larger configurations or Gestalts. Such Gestalts bring together knowledge such as how an object's mass relates to its sinking speed, how an object's volume relates to its sinking speed, and how mass and volume are correlated. The particular form of organization explored here is referred to as logical congruence, the logical correspondence in directions among three physical relations. Are children's guesses about one physical relation congruent with their beliefs about the other two relations? And can they learn a congruent set of relations more readily than an incongruent set? Two different physical domains were explored, one in which children commonly hold pre-existing beliefs, and one in which they are likely to lack such beliefs. The results in both domains show a strong bias towards congruent knowledge configurations in young children. These findings may explain children's difficulties learning inherently incongruous concepts such as density. © 2007.
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