Diane Poulin-Dubois is a professor in the department of Psychology and the director of the Cognitive and Language development Laboratory.
Social learning, defined as learning that is influenced by observation of or interaction with another individual, is widespread in animals. It reaches a zenith in the unique cumulative culture of humans. Although social learning is a potentially cheap way of acquiring information, it comes with pitfalls because the acquired information might be outdated, misleading, or inappropriate. In a series of experiments, I will provide evidence for model-based learning biases in young children and infants, including a precocious sensitivity to the trustworthiness of speakers and emoters. I will also address the debate about the mechanisms that could account for early selective trust and whether infants selective trust provides evidence of specialization for cultural learning.