Children With More Uncertainty in Their Intuitive Theories Seek Domain-Relevant Information

Jinjing Wang, Yang Yang, Carla Macias, Elizabeth Bonawitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


How do changes in learners’ knowledge influence information seeking? We showed preschoolers (N = 100) uncertain outcomes for events and let them choose which event to resolve. We found that children whose intuitive theories were at immature stages were more likely to seek information to resolve uncertainty about an outcome in the related domains, but children with more mature knowledge were not. This result was replicated in a second experiment but with the nuance that children at intermediate stages of belief development—when the causal outcome would be most ambiguous—were the most motivated to resolve the uncertainty. This effect was not driven by general uncertainty at the framework level but, rather, by the impact that framework knowledge has in accessing uncertainty at the model level. These results are the first to show the relationship between a learning preference and the developmental stage of a child’s intuitive theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1156
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


  • active learning
  • cognitive development
  • information gain
  • intuitive theories
  • open data
  • open materials


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