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

FundersEuropean Commission (Horizon 2020)
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online24/08/2021
Date accepted by journal10/08/2021
PublisherPublic Library of Science (PLoS)

People (3)


Dr Kirsten Blakey

Dr Kirsten Blakey

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Philosophy

Professor Christine Anna Caldwell

Professor Christine Anna Caldwell

Professor, Psychology

Dr Eva Rafetseder

Dr Eva Rafetseder

Senior Lecturer, Psychology

Projects (1)