Curious young minds drawn to explore, stockpile information over easy rewards

August 24, 2020
Curious young minds drawn to explore, stockpile information over easy rewards

“Exploration seems to be a major driving force during early childhood – even outweighing the importance of immediate rewards,” according to Dr. Vladimir Sloutsky, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University, US. Dr. Vladimir and colleagues studied how children would jump at the chance to explore the unknown, instead of choosing the obvious “reward” path, as how many adults would.

Participants in a study, roughly 30 adults and 4-year olds, were made to play a computer game. The game screen showed four alien creatures who gave out 1, 2, 3, and 10 pieces of candy respectively when clicked on.The task was to get as much candy as possible.

Both kids and adults quickly learned who the big reward creature was, with adults selecting the creature 86% of the time and kids selecting it 43% of the time. The kids did remember who the high-reward creature was but chose to systematically explore the other creatures as well – they weren’t deterred by sticker rewards either.

“The children were not motivated by achieving the maximum reward to the extent that adults were,” said postdoctoral researcher Nathaniel Blanco. “Instead, children seemed primarily motivated by the information gained through exploring.”

However, some kids tended to be more adult-like, opting for the utilitarian, rewards-based approach, but most tended to be curious and explore all the possible options. Dr. Sloutsky and Blanco are nevertheless intrigued by this seemingly erratic but regular behaviour in children.

Tags: ,

Category: Education, Features

Comments are closed.