The Development of Selective Social learning
Children’s selectivity in learning from different informants has been the focus of much recent research in social cognitive development. Children appear to take into account several factors when selecting whom to learn from. First, children prefer informants who have proven to be knowledgeable rather than ignorant, as well as those who appear certain and confident. Second, children prefer to learn from adults as opposed to their own peers. Finally, children prefer to learn new words from informants they know and recognize than from unfamiliar ones. Our laboratory has been one of the first to document that selective learning emerges in infancy. We have shown that infants prefer to attribute beliefs, imitate and follow the gaze of a reliable looker. In our ongoing studies, we explore the effect of epistemic and communicative reliability on word learning, imitation, and prosocial behaviours (e.g., helping, cooperation).
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