Exploration Decisions Precede and Improve Explicit Uncertainty Judgments in Preschoolers

AbstractWe investigate the relationship between exploratory learning and confidence scale judgments in understanding and improving children’s early recognition of uncertainty. Four- and five-year-olds were presented with stimuli that varied in their amount of occlusion. We assessed children’s ability to distinguish between these levels of uncertainty using two types of measures. Experiment 1 used a traditional 3-point confidence scale to examine explicit uncertainty judgments. Experiment 2 examined exploration preference as an implicit measure of uncertainty using the same stimuli. We compared children’s performance on these two tasks before and after their experience of disconfirming evidence, to assess the impact of surprising events on the recognition of uncertainty. Results indicate that children intuitively recognize gaps in their knowledge and express this in their exploratory behavior before they are able to spontaneously produce accurate confidence judgments. We also find that this implicit recognition of uncertainty may be leveraged to support and improve explicit judgments, even without extensive training.

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