Children's and adults' conceptions of authentic objects and the role of authenticity in learning

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2016-08

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Questions concerning the level of authenticity of an object are of primary importance in many fields. For historians, archeologists, and museum workers, such questions go hand in hand with the way objects are usually found: broken, discolored, and of unknown origin. Even so, psychological research on authenticity tends to ignore the idea that authenticity is not a ‘perfect’ feature within an object, instead presenting a false dichotomy between completely authentic and completely inauthentic objects. In a series of studies the following questions were addressed: (1) How do children compare and contrast objects with different kinds of authenticity, (2) What qualities must an object have in order for children and adults to consider it to be authentic, and (3) What role might authenticity play in learning as it relates to exposure to authentic versus inauthentic objects? These questions were addressed in three studies that make up this dissertation.

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