Navigation Links
The whole truth
Date:6/10/2014

CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Children learn a great deal about the world from their own exploration, but they also rely on what adults tell them. Studies have shown that children can figure out when someone is lying to them, but cognitive scientists from MIT recently tackled a subtler question: Can children tell when adults are telling them the truth, but not the whole truth?

Led by Laura Schulz, the Class of 1943 Career Development Associate Professor of Cognitive Science, the researchers found that not only can children make this distinction, but they can also compensate for incomplete information by exploring more on their own.

Determining whom to trust is an important skill to learn at an early age because so much of our knowledge about the world comes from other people, says Hyowon Gweon, an MIT postdoc and lead author of a paper describing the findings in the journal Cognition.

"When someone provides us information, we not only learn about what is being taught; we also learn something about that person. If the information is accurate and complete, then you might also trust that person in the future," Gweon says. "But if this person has taught you something wrong, has made a mistake, or has omitted something that's important for you to know, then you might want to suspend your trust, be skeptical of the information he provides in the future, and even seek other sources of information."

The study builds on a 2011 paper in which Schulz, Gweon, and others investigated how children behave when a teacher explains only one function of a toy that can do four different things. They found that these children spent most of their time exploring only the function the teacher had demonstrated (the toy squeaks when a yellow tube is pulled), assuming that was the only thing it could do. However, children who received no instruction spent more time exploring all of the toy's features and ended up discovering more of them.

Trustworthy or not?

In the new study, Gweon wanted to investigate what the children thought of the teacher who did not fully explain what the toy could do.

"Previous studies about children's trust in informants or teachers focused on whether children distinguish, and learn differentially from, someone who says something false from someone who's telling the truth," she says. "Going beyond those sensitivities to truth and falseness, what I wanted to see in this study is whether children are also sensitive to someone who's telling the truth but not the whole truth; someone who didn't tell them everything that they ought to know."

In the first experiment, children aged 6 and 7 were given a toy to explore on their own until they discovered all of its functions. One group of children received a toy that had four buttons, each of which activated a different feature a windup mechanism, LED lights, a spinning globe, and music while the other group was given a toy that looked nearly identical but had only one button, which controlled the windup mechanism. Then the children watched as a "teacher" puppet demonstrated the toy to a "student" puppet. For both toys, the teacher's instruction was the same: He demonstrated only the windup mechanism.

After the demonstration, the children were asked to rate how helpful the teacher was, using a scale from 1 to 20. Even though the teacher always demonstrated just the windup mechanism, children who knew the toy had three more undemonstrated functions gave much lower ratings than children who knew it was the toy's only function.

The second experiment began the same way, with the children exploring the toy, then seeing either a full or incomplete demonstration of its functions. However, in this study, the teacher then brought out a second toy. Although this toy had four functions, the teacher demonstrated only one.

Children who had previously seen a demonstration they knew to be incomplete explored the toy much more thoroughly than children who had seen a complete demonstration, suggesting that they did not trust the teacher to be fully informative.

"This shows that children are not just sensitive to who's right or wrong," Gweon says. "Children can also evaluate others based on who's providing information that is enough or not enough for accurate inference. They can also adjust how they learn from a teacher in the future, depending on whether the teacher has previously committed a sin of omission or not."

Too much information

In another recent study, Gweon and Schulz investigated the flip side of this issue: how children react to teachers who present too much information, rather than too little. In a paper to be presented at the annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society in July, they found that children prefer teachers who do not spend time offering information that the children already know, or that they could have inferred from what they already know.

"These studies are the first steps toward understanding just how rich children's understanding of the world is," Gweon says. "Children are trying to bring together all kinds of information in order to make rational decisions about how to learn about the world, and who to go to for more information, while being also mindful of the cost related to learning, such as time and effort."


'/>"/>

Contact: Sarah McDonnell
s_mcd@mit.edu
617-253-8923
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Mayo Clinic launches whole genome breast cancer study
2. Kidney cancer patients do better when whole kidney is not removed, U-M study shows
3. Low-dose whole-body CT finds disease missed on standard imaging for patients with multiple myeloma
4. Highly targeted irradiation as good as whole breast radiotherapy in early stage cancer
5. Beef & Pork Wholesaling in the US Industry Market Research Report Now Available from IBISWorld
6. Treating the whole person with autism
7. Treating the whole person with autism sets direction for parent-clinician collaboration
8. Whole-genome scan helps select best treatment for childhood cancer
9. Rebuilding a whole heart for children born with only half of 1
10. Benefit6 Whole Body Protection, a New Product by I Do Strive LLC, Provides Maximum Antioxidant Protection
11. Benefit6 Whole Body Protection, a New Product by I Do Strive LLC, Provides Increased Energy Production According to Recent Studies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son ... lash out at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t ... would use it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he was ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... Dr. Amanda Cheng, an orthodontist ... has extensive experience with all areas of orthodontics, including robotic Suresmile technology, ... , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to orthodontic treatment. It can be used ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... People across the U.S. are sharpening their pencils and ... essay contest in which patients and their families pay tribute to a genetic counselor ... National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this September. , ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Nevada (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Vegas client, The Grove Investment Group (TGIG), has initiated cultivation and processing operations ... in Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada. , Puradigm is the manufacturer of a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Venture Construction Group (VCG) sponsors Luke’s Wings 5th ... Woodmont Country Club at 1201 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, 20852. The event raised ... have been wounded in battle and their families. Venture Construction Group is a 2016 ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the ... 2016 - Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... up to date financial data derived from varied research sources ... with potential impact on the market during the next five ... comprises of sub markets, regional and country level analysis. The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , , , WHEN: , , ... , , , LOCATION: , , , Online, with free registration ... PANELISTS:  , , , Frost & Sullivan,s Global Vice President of ... Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar and Unmesh Lal, Program Manager , ... witnessing an exceptional era. Several new demand spaces, such as innovative ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Guerbet announced today ... Inc.,s Supplier Horizon Award . One ... Guerbet was recognized for its support of Premier members ... through clinical excellence, and commitment to lower costs. ... receive this recognition of our outstanding customer service from ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: