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Development of strategic social information seeking: Implications for cumulative culture

Blakey, Kirsten H. and Rafetseder, Eva and Atkinson, Mark and Renner, Elizabeth and Cowan-Forsythe, Fía and Sati, Shivani J. and Caldwell, Christine A. (2021) 'Development of strategic social information seeking: Implications for cumulative culture.', PLOS ONE, 16 (8).

Abstract

Human learners are rarely the passive recipients of valuable social information. Rather, learners usually have to actively seek out information from a variety of potential others to determine who is in a position to provide useful information. Yet, the majority of developmental social learning paradigms do not address participants’ ability to seek out information for themselves. To investigate age-related changes in children’s ability to seek out appropriate social information, 3- to 8-year-olds (N = 218) were presented with a task requiring them to identify which of four possible demonstrators could provide critical information for unlocking a box. Appropriate information seeking improved significantly with age. The particularly high performance of 7- and 8-year-olds was consistent with the expectation that older children’s increased metacognitive understanding would allow them to identify appropriate information sources. Appropriate social information seeking may have been overlooked as a significant cognitive challenge involved in fully benefiting from others’ knowledge, potentially influencing understanding of the phylogenetic distribution of cumulative culture.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256605
Publisher statement:Copyright: © 2021 Blakey et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date accepted:10 August 2021
Date deposited:25 January 2022
Date of first online publication:24 August 2021
Date first made open access:25 January 2022

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