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Children learn smart behaviors without knowing what they know
Date:6/16/2008

that children can acquire this flexibility without this deeper knowledge, and without realizing how they are being flexible."

In their study, Sloutsky and Fisher had several groups of 4- and 5-year-olds participate in several experiments. In all of these experiments, children played a guessing game involving choosing objects on a computer screen. The game was played either in the upper right corner on the computer screen (with a yellow background) or in the lower left hand corner of the computer screen (with a green background).

They were shown one object and told it had a smiley face behind it. They then guessed which of the other two objects also had a smiley face behind it. In each case, one of the other objects had the same color but different shape as the original, while the other had the same shape but a different color.

The key was that when the game was in the upper right corner of the computer screen, the smiley face was always hidden behind the same-shaped item. When the game was presented in the lower left corner, the smiley face was hidden behind the item with the same color.

Some children were given training: after making a guess, they were told whether they were correct or not. These children soon learned where to find the smiley face.

Later, during testing, these children had no trouble correctly guessing where the smiley face was hidden, even though no feedback was given during the actual test.

But, Sloutsky said, "these children were not aware of what they learned. They didn't know how they were making the correct choices."

In several related experiments, the researchers tested whether children discovered the "rules" of this game that shape was important when the game was played in the upper-right corner of the screen, and color was important when it was played in the lower-left corner and whether they could follow the rule on their own.

The answer was that they did not figure
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Contact: Vladimir Sloutsky
Sloutsky.1@osu.edu
614-688-5855
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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