Online data collection methods are expanding the ease and access of developmental research for researchers and participants alike. While its popularity among developmental scientists has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, its potential goes beyond just a means for safe, socially distanced data collection. In particular, advances in video conferencing software has enabled researchers to engage in face-to-face interactions with participants from nearly any location at any time. Due to the novelty of these methods, however, many researchers still remain uncertain about (...) the differences in available approaches as well as the validity of online methods more broadly. In this article, we aim to address both issues with a focus on moderated data collected using video-conferencing software. First, we review existing approaches for designing and executing moderated online studies with young children. We also present concrete examples of studies that implemented choice and verbal measures and looking time across both in-person and online moderated data collection methods. Direct comparison of the two methods within each study as well as a meta-analysis of all studies suggest that the results from the two methods are comparable, providing empirical support for the validity of moderated online data collection. Finally, we discuss current limitations of online data collection and possible solutions, as well as its potential to increase the accessibility, diversity, and replicability of developmental science. (shrink)
We routinely observe others’ choices and use them to guide our own. Whose choices influence us more, and why? Prior work has focused on the effect of perceived similarity between two individuals, such as the degree of overlap in past choices or explicitly recognizable group affiliations. In the real world, however, any dyadic relationship is part of a more complex social structure involving multiple social groups that are not directly observable. Here we suggest that human learners go beyond dyadic similarities (...) in choice behaviors or explicit group memberships; they infer the structure of social influence by grouping individuals based on choices, and they use these groups to decide whose choices to follow. We propose a computational model that formalizes this idea, and we test the model predictions in a series of behavioral experiments. In Experiment 1, we reproduce a well-established finding that people's choices are more likely to be influenced by someone whose past choices are more similar to their own past choices, as predicted by our model as well as dyadic similarity models. In Experiments 2–5, we test a set of unique predictions of our model by looking at cases where the degree of choice overlap between individuals is equated, but their choices indicate a latent group structure. We then apply our model to prior empirical results on infants’ understanding of others’ preferences, presenting an alternative account of developmental changes. Finally, we discuss how our model relates to classical findings in the social influence literature and the theoretical implications of our model. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that structure learning is a powerful framework for explaining the influence of social information on decision making in a variety of contexts. (shrink)
Veissière et al.'s proposal aims to explain how cognition enables cultural learning, but fails to acknowledge a distinctively human behavior critical to this process: communication. Recent advances in developmental and computational cognitive science suggest that the social-cognitive capacities central to TTOM also support sophisticated yet remarkably early-emerging inferences and communicative behaviors that allow us to learn and share abstract knowledge.