Development of strategic social information seeking: Implications for cumulative culture


Blakey KH, Rafetseder E, Atkinson M, Renner E, Cowan-Forsythe F, Sati SJ & Caldwell CA (2021) Development of strategic social information seeking: Implications for cumulative culture. PLOS ONE, 16 (8), Art. No.: e0256605.

Human learners are rarely the passive recipients of valuable social information. Rather, learners usually have to actively seek out information from a variety of potential others to determine who is in a position to provide useful information. Yet, the majority of developmental social learning paradigms do not address participants’ ability to seek out information for themselves. To investigate age-related changes in children’s ability to seek out appropriate social information, 3- to 8-year-olds (N = 218) were presented with a task requiring them to identify which of four possible demonstrators could provide critical information for unlocking a box. Appropriate information seeking improved significantly with age. The particularly high performance of 7- and 8-year-olds was consistent with the expectation that older children’s increased metacognitive understanding would allow them to identify appropriate information sources. Appropriate social information seeking may have been overlooked as a significant cognitive challenge involved in fully benefiting from others’ knowledge, potentially influencing understanding of the phylogenetic distribution of cumulative culture.

PLOS ONE: Volume 16, Issue 8

Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online31/08/2021
Date accepted by journal10/08/2021
PublisherPublic Library of Science (PLoS)