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Kim, Sunae; Paulus, Markus; Sodian, Beate; Proust, Joelle (2016): Young Children's Sensitivity to Their Own Ignorance in Informing Others.
In: PLOS ONE 11(3), e0152595


Prior research suggests that young children selectively inform others depending on others' knowledge states. Yet, little is known whether children selectively inform others depending on their own knowledge states. To explore this issue, we manipulated 3-to 4-year-old children's knowledge about the content of a box and assessed the impact on their decisions to inform another person. Moreover, we assessed the presence of uncertainty gestures while they inform another person in light of the suggestions that children's gestures reflect early developing, perhaps transient, epistemic sensitivity. Finally, we compared children's performance in the informing context to their explicit verbal judgment of their knowledge states to further confirm the existence of a performance gap between the two tasks. In their decisions to inform, children tend to accurately assess their ignorance, whereas they tend to overestimate their own knowledge states when asked to explicitly report them. Moreover, children display different levels of uncertainty gestures depending on the varying degrees of their informational access. These findings suggest that children's implicit awareness of their own ignorance may be facilitated in a social, communicative context.