Persistence of the intuitive conception of living things in adolescence

Reuven Babai, Rachel Sekal, Ruth Stavy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated whether intuitive, naive conceptions of "living things" based on objects' mobility (movement = alive) persist into adolescence and affect 10th graders' accuracy of responses and reaction times during object classification. Most of the 58 students classified the test objects correctly as living/nonliving, yet they demonstrated significantly longer reaction times for classifying plants compared to animals and for classifying dynamic objects compared to static inanimate objects. Findings indicated that, despite prior learning in biology, the intuitive conception of living things persists up to age 15-16 years, affecting related reasoning processes. Consideration of these findings may help educators in their decisions about the nature of examples they use in their classrooms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Classification
  • Intuitive conceptions
  • Living things
  • Naive conception
  • Preconceptions
  • Primary conceptions
  • Reaction time


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