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Two-year old children preferentially transmit simple actions but not pedagogically demonstrated actions

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>14/01/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Developmental Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press
Original languageEnglish


Children are sensitive to both social and non-social aspects of the learning environment. Among social cues, pedagogical communication has been shown to not only play a role in children’s learning, but also in their own active transmission of knowledge. Vredenburgh, Kushnir and Casasola (2015) showed that 2-year-olds are more likely to demonstrate an action to a naive adult after learning it in a pedagogical than in a non-pedagogical context. This finding was interpreted as evidence that pedagogically transmitted information has a special status as culturally relevant. Here we test the limits of this claim by setting it in contrast with an explanation in which the relevance of information is the outcome of multiple interacting social (e.g., pedagogical demonstration) and non-social properties (e.g., action complexity). To test these competing hypotheses, we varied both pedagogical cues and action complexity in an information transmission paradigm with 2-year-old children. In Experiment 1, children preferentially transmitted simple non-pedagogically demonstrated actions over pedagogically demonstrated more complex actions. In Experiment 2, when both actions were matched for complexity, we found no evidence of preferential transmission of pedagogically demonstrated actions. We discuss possible reasons for the discrepancy between our results and previous literature showing an effect of pedagogical cues on cultural transmission, and conclude that our results are compatible with the view that pedagogical and other cues interact, but incompatible with the theory of a privileged role for pedagogical cues.