Development of strategic social information seeking: implications for cumulative culture

Kirsten H Blakey*, Eva Rafetseder, Mark Atkinson, Elizabeth Renner, Fia Cowan-Forsythe, Shivani J Sati, Christine A Caldwell

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0256605
    Number of pages22
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2021


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