“I don’t know but I know who to ask”:12-month-olds actively seek information from knowledgeable adults

Bazhydai, Marina and Westermann, Gert and Parise, Eugenio (2020) “I don’t know but I know who to ask”:12-month-olds actively seek information from knowledgeable adults. Developmental Science, 23 (5). ISSN 1363-755X

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Abstract

Active social communication is an effective way for infants to learn about the world. Do pre‐verbal and pre‐pointing infants seek epistemic information from their social partners when motivated to obtain information they cannot discover independently? The present study investigated whether 12‐month‐olds (N = 30) selectively seek information from knowledgeable adults in situations of referential uncertainty. In a live experiment, infants were introduced to two unfamiliar adults, an Informant (reliably labeling objects) and a Non‐Informant (equally socially engaging, but ignorant about object labels). At test, infants were asked to make an impossible choice—locate a novel referent among two novel objects. When facing epistemic uncertainty—but not at other phases of the procedure—infants selectively referred to the Informant rather than the Non‐Informant. These results show that pre‐verbal infants use social referencing to actively and selectively seek information from social partners as part of their interrogative communicative toolkit. A video abstract of this article can be viewed at https://youtu.be/23dLPsa-fAY Research highlights Twelve‐month‐olds reliably assessed the informative potential of the available social partners and selectively queried the best source only when information was needed. Pre‐verbal infants used social referencing to actively and selectively seek information from social partners as part of their interrogative communicative toolkit. Social referencing served as a communicative means to seek epistemic rather than emotionally laden information in the situation of referential uncertainty. Results indicate that infants actively participate in the cultural interpersonal process of knowledge transmission, using basic non‐verbal communicative tools at their disposal.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Developmental Science
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Bazhydai, M, Westermann, G, Parise, E. “I don't know but I know who to ask”: 12‐month‐olds actively seek information from knowledgeable adults. Dev Sci. 2020; 23:e12938. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12938 which has been published in final form at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/desc.12938 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3200/3204
Subjects:
ID Code:
140350
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
17 Jan 2020 15:00
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
24 Nov 2020 08:18