Preschoolers search longer when there is more information to be gained

Azzurra Ruggeri, Oana Stanciu, Madeline Pelz, Alison Gopnik, Eric Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

What drives children to explore and learn when external rewards are uncertain or absent? Across three studies, we tested whether information gain itself acts as an internal reward and suffices to motivate children's actions. We measured 24–56-month-olds' persistence in a game where they had to search for an object (animal or toy), which they never find, hidden behind a series of doors, manipulating the degree of uncertainty about which specific object was hidden. We found that children were more persistent in their search when there was higher uncertainty, and therefore, more information to be gained with each action, highlighting the importance of research on artificial intelligence to invest in curiosity-driven algorithms. Research Highlights: Across three studies, we tested whether information gain itself acts as an internal reward and suffices to motivate preschoolers' actions. We measured preschoolers' persistence when searching for an object behind a series of doors, manipulating the uncertainty about which specific object was hidden. We found that preschoolers were more persistent when there was higher uncertainty, and therefore, more information to be gained with each action. Our results highlight the importance of research on artificial intelligence to invest in curiosity-driven algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13411
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • active learning
  • developmental psychology
  • hypothesis testing
  • information gain

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