Choice strategies in a changing social learning environment

AbstractOne challenge that children face when learning from others is that social agents can behave in unpredictable ways. Social agents may acquire—or fail to acquire—new information that influences how they interact with the learner. Little is known about children’s sensitivity to these changes or how effectively children update their own behavior in response. Participants (N = 129) searched for rewards while receiving suggestions from a social agent. The suggestions changed in level of reliability over time. All children updated how heavily they weighted the cues after the change. However, younger children were more influenced by their initial experience with the suggestions, indicating that younger children may have more difficulty disengaging from social information in uncertain learning environments.

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