Research has shown that young children selectively learn from others: They often choose to learn from people who are similar to themselves (e.g., of the same gender or ethnicity) or from people who provided accurate information in the past. The current study aims to understand what motivates children to learn from other people. Do children learn from others because they want to gain accurate information about the world, because they want to affiliate with others, or both?
In this study, we ask 4-6 year-old children to play a computer game in which two animated characters provide conflicting information about what is inside of a container. In some cases the characters might differ in their knowledge (e.g., one looked into the container while the other did not look). In other cases, the characters differ in their friendship connections (e.g., one has friends while the other does not have friends). We ask children what they think is in the container, and we record whether they trust the information from one character over the other.
We predict that children will selectively accept information from the characters who looked in the container, and from those with friendship connections. This would tell us that children might be motivated to learn from others not only to gain accurate information, but also to affiliate with other people. In future studies, we plan to investigate whether one of these factors is more important to children than the other.
This study will help us understand how children learn new information from other people.
Learn about other research related to Learning From Others.
This research is conducted by the Laboratory for Developmental Studies at Harvard University