Main content

Children understand what to teach and what to let learners discover  /

Date created: | Last Updated:


Creating DOI. Please wait...

Create DOI

Category: Project

Description: Humans learn from their own experience, but they also learn a great deal from others. Direct instruction facilitates learning without the costs of exploration, yet teachers must be selective because not everything can nor needs to be taught. How do we decide what to teach, and what to leave for learners to discover? By combining developmental experiments and computational modeling, we examine the cognitive underpinnings of how we decide what to teach, and what to let others discover on their own. We find that young children make teaching decisions that balance the benefits of social learning and the costs of exploration. Given a choice between two causal devices that they could teach to a learner (leaving the other for the learner to explore), children made decisions that (1) increased the learner's expected rewards (i.e., teaching the device that yields a more enjoyable effect), and (2) decreased the learner's expected costs (i.e., teaching the device that would be harder to figure out by oneself). These decisions are consistent with a computational model that maximizes the learner's expected utility (difference between rewards and costs) of learning from instruction and from exploration. Further experiments show that children consider either the learner's utility or their own depending on the context, and even consider costs they have not personally experienced to decide what is best to teach. These results highlight the richness of early social reasoning and how it supports selective transmission of information that is critical to successful cultural learning.


Loading files...


Recent Activity

Loading logs...

OSF does not support the use of Internet Explorer. For optimal performance, please switch to another browser.
This website relies on cookies to help provide a better user experience. By clicking Accept or continuing to use the site, you agree. For more information, see our Privacy Policy and information on cookie use.

Start managing your projects on the OSF today.

Free and easy to use, the Open Science Framework supports the entire research lifecycle: planning, execution, reporting, archiving, and discovery.