The development of children's information gathering: To look or to ask?
Fitneva, S. A., Lam, N. H. L., & Dunfield, K. A.
The development of children's information gathering: To look or to ask? Developmental Psychology, 49
(3), 533-542. doi:10.1037/a0031326.
The testimony of others and direct experience play a major role in the development of children's knowledge. Children actively use questions to seek others' testimony and explore the environment. It is unclear though whether children distinguish when it is better to ask from when it is better to try to find an answer by oneself. In 2 experiments, we examined the ability of 4- and 6-year-olds to select between looking and asking to determine visible and invisible properties of entities (e.g., hair color vs. knowledge of French). All children chose to look more often for visible than invisible properties. However, only 6-year-olds chose above chance to look for visible properties and to ask for invisible properties. Four-year-olds showed a preference for looking in one experiment and asking in the other. The results suggest substantial development in the efficacy of children's learning in early childhood.