Development of strategic social information seeking: Implications for cumulative culture

Kirsten H. Blakey, Eva Rafetseder, Mark Atkinson, Elizabeth Renner, Fía Cowan-Forsythe, Shivani Sati, Christine A. Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


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
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2021


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