Parental Input Regarding ?Negative? Information About the Biological World
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Previous research suggests that parent's input in informal learning activities is an important source of information for children's developing theories of biological phenomena, as well as one potential source for misconceptions about those phenomena. Currently, there are no studies on whether and how parents convey information about 'negative' animal behaviors, such as the predation between species or competition within a species. To address this issue, we asked parents of children between the ages of 4 and 12 to read an illustrated book of animal facts to their child. We analyzed the difference in how parents articulated neutral and negative facts by calculating the frequency with which they repeated those facts, omitted those facts, or embellished those facts with additional information. Across all age groups, parents were more likely to repeat the neutral facts verbatim but embellish the negative facts with additional comments, questions, or explanations, effectively highlighting the negative information more prominently. We discuss these findings with respect to children's scientific knowledge about evolution and parent-child interactions in informal science learning.