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Asking the right questions about the psychology of human inquiry: Nine open challenges

  • Anna Coenen
  • Jonathan D. Nelson
  • Todd M. Gureckis
Theoretical Review

Abstract

The ability to act on the world with the goal of gaining information is core to human adaptability and intelligence. Perhaps the most successful and influential account of such abilities is the Optimal Experiment Design (OED) hypothesis, which argues that humans intuitively perform experiments on the world similar to the way an effective scientist plans an experiment. The widespread application of this theory within many areas of psychology calls for a critical evaluation of the theory’s core claims. Despite many successes, we argue that the OED hypothesis remains lacking as a theory of human inquiry and that research in the area often fails to confront some of the most interesting and important questions. In this critical review, we raise and discuss nine open questions about the psychology of human inquiry.

Keywords

Inquiry Information search Information gain Optimal experiment design Active learning Question asking 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Neil Bramley, Justine Hoch, Doug Markant, Greg Murphy, and Marjorie Rhodes for many helpful comments on a draft of this paper. We also thank Kylan Larson for assistance with illustrations. This work was supported by BCS-1255538 from the National Science Foundation, the John S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award, and a UNSW Sydney Visiting Scholar Fellow, to TMG; and by NE 1713/1-2 from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of the ”New Frameworks of Rationality” (SPP 1516) priority program, to JDN.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Coenen
    • 1
  • Jonathan D. Nelson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Todd M. Gureckis
    • 1
  1. 1.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany
  3. 3.University of SurreyGuildfordUK

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