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  • 2020BazhydaiPhD

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Social learning mechanisms of knowledge exchange: Active communication, information seeking and information transmission in infancy

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2020
Number of pages282
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • The Leverhulme Trust
Award date12/06/2020
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Children are active participants in the social knowledge exchange process, but little is known about how this exchange manifests in the first two years of life. This thesis explores active social learning strategies underlying both knowledge acquisition and knowledge transmission in infants aged 11-24 months. Comprising three experimental chapters, this thesis demonstrates infants’ sensitivity to the informative potential of their social partners and their epistemic value, their active and selective information seeking in situations of epistemic uncertainty, and their preferential information transmission based on a combination of social and non-social factors. Experimental Chapter 1 shows that 11-month-olds communicatively respond to their social partners following epistemic violation of expectation events and do so based on the social partner’s epistemic status. Experimental Chapter 2 demonstrates that 12-month-olds selectively solicit epistemic information from more knowledgeable social partners when facing a situation of referential uncertainty. Experimental Chapter 3 reports that 24-month-olds’ propensity for active information transmission to less knowledgeable social partners is modulated by information complexity but not the pedagogical context of information acquisition. Overall, this thesis contributes to the literature on cognitive development of social learning strategies for acquisition and transmission of knowledge, with a special emphasis on elucidating the ontogeny of active interrogative communication skills. The overarching conclusion stemming from this work highlights that far from being passive receptacles of knowledge, infants actively partake in the bi-directional process of social knowledge exchange.