To give a fish or to teach how to fish? Children weigh costs and benefits in considering what information to transmit.

Hyowon GweonMIT
Veronica ChuMIT
Laura SchulzMIT

Abstract

Previous developmental research on pedagogy has focused on children’s inferences as learners. Here we look at children’s inferences as teachers. We explore the hypothesis that young children consider the goal of the learner and rationally provide evidence that is both informative and cost-efficient. Given a toy with an ambiguous causal structure, children selectively performed costly actions to provide disambiguating evidence only when the learner wanted to know how the toy worked; when the learner only wanted to see the toy’s effects, children chose less costly actions. These results suggest that children flexibly modify their behaviors as teachers by considering what learners need to know.

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To give a fish or to teach how to fish? Children weigh costs and benefits in considering what information to transmit. (539 KB)



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