Young Children Treat Robots as Informants

Topics in Cognitive Science 8 (2):481-491 (2016)
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Abstract

Children ranging from 3 to 5 years were introduced to two anthropomorphic robots that provided them with information about unfamiliar animals. Children treated the robots as interlocutors. They supplied information to the robots and retained what the robots told them. Children also treated the robots as informants from whom they could seek information. Consistent with studies of children's early sensitivity to an interlocutor's non-verbal signals, children were especially attentive and receptive to whichever robot displayed the greater non-verbal contingency. Such selective information seeking is consistent with recent findings showing that although young children learn from others, they are selective with respect to the informants that they question or endorse.

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