Social Curiosity and Social Learning

Colloquium | April 8 | 12:10-1:30 p.m. | 1102 Berkeley Way West

 Hyo Gweon, Stanford University, Department of Psychology

 Department of Psychology

Learning does not occur in isolation. From parent-child interactions to formal classroom environments, humans explore, learn, and communicate in rich, diverse social contexts. Rather than simply observing and copying their conspecifics, humans engage in a range of epistemic practices that actively recruit those around them. They query others to acquire useful information, consider others’ mental states to draw inferences that go beyond the evidence, and help others learn by generating information tailored to their knowledge and goals. What makes human social learning so distinctive, powerful, and smart?

In this talk, I will present a series of studies that reveal the remarkably curious minds of young children, not only about the physical world but also about others and themselves; children are curious about what others do & what their actions mean, what others know & what they ought to know, and even what others think of them and how to change their beliefs. The results collectively paint a picture of young children as active social learners who voraciously yet intelligently gather useful information from others to learn about the world, and generously share what they know with those around them.