Most previous research on categories and concepts has focused on their descriptive power--how categories convey what their members are like. I've found that people also think of many important categories prescriptively, in terms of how category members should be--and these category ideals are especially important for young children's concepts.

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In this line of work, I study how people's explanations about why things are the way they are can give rise to judgments that they are therefore “right.” These judgments are especially central for young children and are shaped by cultural input.

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