How and when does the ability to give and understand explanations develop?
Morag Donaldson directly addresses this question in the present study,
providing evidence from a series of imaginative experiments she carried out
with 3- to 10-year-olds. In contrast to many earlier accounts, she
demonstrates that children can distinguish between cause and effect and
among physical, psychological and logical relations well before the age of
7. The study focuses primarily on the linguistic abilities that are needed
for explanation, in particular the understanding of because, so, why?, and
how do you know?, and it makes a substantial contribution to our
understanding of the semantics and pragmatics of causal connectives.
However, the study also provides valuable insights into children's related
cognitive abilities. Children's Explanations is a book that will be of
equal interest to cognitive and developmental psychologists and to
psycholinguistics, a well as to researchers in education for whom its topic
must be of crucial importance.