Advertisement

Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 849–861 | Cite as

Children’s Decision to Transmit Information is Guided by their Evaluation of the Nature of that Information

  • Samuel Ronfard
  • Paul L. Harris
Article

Abstract

Recent findings have shown that children’s teaching is guided by their evaluation of what a pupil does versus does not know. While children certainly teach to remedy a knowledge gap between themselves and a learner, we argue that children’s appraisal of the nature of the knowledge that they are seeking to convey and not just whether a knowledge gap exists plays an important role in children’s decision to transmit information. Specifically, we argue that children are more likely to transmit information a pupil does not know in at least three cases: if that information is difficult for the learner to acquire on her own, generic rather than specific, and normative rather than descriptive.

References

  1. Ashley, J., and M. Tomasello. 1998. Cooperative problem-solving and teaching in preschoolers. Social Development 7: 143–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bonawitz, E.B., P. Shafto, H. Gweon, N. Goodman, E. Spelke, and L.E. Schulz. 2011. The double-edged sword of pedagogy: Teaching limits children's spontaneous exploration and discovery. Cognition 120: 322–330. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2010.10.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boyd, R., and P.J. Richerson. 1985. Culture and the evolutionary process. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Casler, K., T. Terziyan, and K. Greene. 2009. Toddlers view artifact function normatively. Cognitive Development 24: 240–247. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2009.03.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clegg, J.M., and C.H. Legare. 2016. Instrumental and conventional interpretations of behavior are associated with distinct outcomes in early childhood. Child Development 87: 527–542. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Csibra, G., and G. Gergely. 2009. Natural pedagogy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13: 148–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davis-Unger, A.C., and S.M. Carlson. 2008a. Development of teaching skills and relations to theory of mind in preschoolers. Journal of Cognition and Development 9: 26–45. doi: 10.1080/15248370701836584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis-Unger, A.C., and S.M. Carlson. 2008b. Children’s teaching skills: The role of theory of mind and executive function. Mind, Brain, and Education 2: 128–135. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-228X.2008.00043.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fogarty, L., P. Strimling, and K.N. Laland. 2011. The evolution of teaching. Evolution 65: 2760–2770. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01370.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gelman, S.A. 2000. The role of essentialism in children’s concepts. In Advances in child development and behavior, ed. H.W. Reese, 27:55–98. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gelman, S.A., E.A. Ware, E.M. Manczak, and S.A. Graham. 2013. Children's sensitivity to the knowledge expressed in pedagogical and nonpedagogical contexts. Developmental Psychology 49: 591–504. doi: 10.1037/a0027901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gweon, H., H. Pelton, J.A. Konopka, and L.E. Schulz. 2014. Sins of omission: Children selectively explore when agents fail to tell the whole truth. Cognition 132: 335–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Harris, P.L. 2012. Trusting what you’re told: How children learn from others. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press/Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harris, P.L., S. Ronfard, and D. Bartz. 2017. Young children’s developing conception of knowledge and ignorance: Work in progress. The European Journal of Developmental Psychology 14: 221–232. doi: 10.1080/17405629.2016.1190267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Henrich, J. 2009. The evolution of costly displays, cooperation and religion: Credibility enhancing displays and their implications for cultural evolution. Evolution and Human Behavior 30: 244–260. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2009.03.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Howe, N., E. Adrien, S. Della Porta, S. Peccia, H. Recchia, H.P. Osana, and H. Ross. 2016. ‘infinity means it goes on forever’: Siblings' informal teaching of mathematics. Infant and Child Development 25: 137–157. doi: 10.1002/icd.1928.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kline, M.A. 2015. How to learn about teaching: An evolutionary framework for the study of teaching behavior in humans and other animals. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 38: 1–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kline, M.A., R. Boyd, and J. Henrich. 2013. Teaching and the life history of cultural transmission in Fijian villages. Human Nature 24: 351–374. doi: 10.1007/s12110-013-9180-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Knudsen, B., and U. Liszkowski. 2012. Eighteen- and 24-month-old infants correct others in anticipation of action mistakes. Developmental Science 15: 113–122. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01098.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Legare, C.H., and M. Nielsen. 2015. Imitation and innovation: The dual engines of cultural learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 19: 688–699. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.08.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Legare, C.H., and R.E. Watson-Jones. 2015. The evolution and ontogeny of ritual. In The handbook of evolutionary Psychology, ed. D.M. Buss, 829–847. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  22. Liszkowski, U., M. Carpenter, T. Striano, and M. Tomasello. 2006. Twelve- and 18-month-olds point to provide information for others. Journal of Cognition and Development 7: 173–187. doi: 10.1207/s15327647jcd0702_2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liszkowski, U., M. Carpenter, and M. Tomasello. 2008. Twelve-month-olds communicate helpfully and appropriately for knowledgeable and ignorant partners. Cognition 108: 732–739. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.06.013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lockhart, K.L., M.K. Goddu, E. Smith, and F.C. Keil. 2016. What could you really learn on your own?: Understanding the epistemic limitations of knowledge acquisition. Child Development 87: 477–493. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Misch, A., H. Over, and M. Carpenter. 2016. I won't tell: Young children show loyalty to their group by keeping group secrets. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 142: 96–106. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.09.016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Morgan, T.J.H., N.T. Uomini, L.E. Rendell, L. Chouinard-Thuly, S.E. Street, H.M. Lewis, C.P. Cross, C. Evans, R. Kearney, I. de la Torre, A. Whiten, and K.N. Laland. 2015. Experimental evidence for the co-evolution of hominin tool-making teaching and language. Nature Communications 6: 6029. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Papafragou, A., P. Li, Y. Choi, and C. Han. 2007. Evidentiality in language and cognition. Cognition 103: 253–259. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2006.04.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pea, R.D. 1982. Origins of verbal logic: Spontaneous denials by two- and three-year olds. Journal of Child Language 9: 597–626. doi: 10.1017/S0305000900004931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Principe, G.F. 2014. Trust in others’ versions of experience: Implications for children’s autobiographical memory. In Trust and skepticism, ed. E.J. Robinson and S. Einav, 123–137. London: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  30. Principe, G.F., T. Kanaya, S.J. Ceci, and M. Singh. 2006. Believing is seeing. How rumors can engender false memories in preschoolers. Psychological Science 17: 243–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rakoczy, H., F. Warneken, and M. Tomasello. 2008. The sources of normativity: Young children’s awareness of the normative structure of games. Developmental Psychology 44: 875–881. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.44.3.875.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ronfard, S., and K.H. Corriveau. 2016. Teaching and preschoolers’ ability to infer knowledge from mistakes. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 150: 87–98. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2016.05.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ronfard, S., A.M. Was, and P.L. Harris. 2016. Children teach methods they could not discover for themselves. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 142: 107–117. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.09.032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rossano, M.J. 2012. The essential role of ritual in the transmission and reinforcement of social norms. Psychological Bulletin 138: 529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schmidt, M., H. Rakoczy, and M. Tomasello. 2012. Young children enforce social norms selectively depending on the violator’s group affiliation. Cognition 124: 325–333. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.06.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shafto, P., N.D. Goodman, and T.L. Griffiths. 2014. A rational account of pedagogical reasoning: Teaching by, and learning from, examples. Cognitive Psychology 71: 55–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sobel, D.M., and S.M. Letourneau. 2016. Children’s developing knowledge of and reflection about teaching. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 143: 111–122. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.10.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Strauss, S., and M. Ziv. 2012. Teaching is a natural cognitive ability for humans. Mind, Brain, and Education 6: 186–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Strauss, S., M. Ziv, and A. Stein. 2002. Teaching as a natural cognition and its relations to preschoolers’ developing theory of mind. Cognitive Development 17: 1473–1487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Taylor, M., B.M. Esbensen, and R.T. Bennett. 1994. Children’s understanding of knowledge acquisition: The tendency for children to report that they have always known what they just learned. Child Development 65: 1581–1604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thornton, A., and N. Raihani. 2008. The evolution of teaching. Animal Behaviour 75: 1823–1836. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.12.014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tomasello, M. 2009. The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Was, A.M., and F. Warneken. 2017. Proactive help-seeking: Preschoolers know when they need help, but do not always ask for it. Cognitive Development 43: 91–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wellman, H.M., and K.H. Lagattuta. 2004. Theory of mind for learning and teaching: The nature and role of explanation. Cognitive Development 19 (4): 479–497. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2004.09.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wood, D., H. Wood, S. Ainsworth, and C. O’Malley. 1995. On becoming a tutor: Toward an ontogenetic model. Cognition and Instruction 13: 565–581. doi: 10.1207/s1532690xci1304_7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wynn, K. 1992. Addition and subtraction by human infants. Nature 358: 749–750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ziv, M., and D. Frye. 2004. Children’s understanding of teaching: The role of knowledge and belief. Cognitive Development 19: 457–477. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2004.09.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ziv, M., A. Solomon, S. Strauss, and D. Frye. 2015. Relations between the development of teaching and theory of mind in early childhood. Journal of Cognition and Development 17: 264–284. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2015.1048862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zwirner, E., and A. Thornton. 2015. Cognitive requirements of cumulative culture: Teaching is useful but not essential. Scientific Reports 5. doi: 10.1038/srep16781.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of EducationHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations