What is a good question asker better at? From no generalization, to overgeneralization, to adults-like selectivity across childhood

AbstractPrior research showed that young children prefer to seek help from actors who have demonstrated active learning competence. What inferences do people make based on the ability to search effectively, for example by asking informative questions? This project explores across two experiments to what extent adults and children (3- to 9-year-olds) generalize the ability to ask informative questions to other abilities/characteristics. We presented participants with one monster who always asked informative questions and one who always asked uninformative questions. Participants had to choose which monster they thought was more likely to possess/was better at 12 different characteristics/abilities. Our results show a clear developmental trend. Three- and 4-year-olds draw unsystematic inferences from the monsters’ question-asking expertise. Five- and 6-year-olds identified the better question asker as better at everything.Seven- to 9-year-olds showed adult-like response patterns, selectively associating the ability to ask good questions to related characteristics/abilities.

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