Explanation-seeking curiosity in childhood

Emily G. Liquin, Tania Lombrozo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Children are known for asking ‘why?’ — a query motivated by their desire for explanations. Research suggests that explanation-seeking curiosity (ESC) is triggered by first-person cues (such as novelty or surprise), third-person cues (such as a knowledgeable adults’ surprise or question), and future-oriented cues (such as expectations about information gain or future value). Once triggered, ESC is satisfied by an adequate explanation, typically obtained through causal intervention or question asking, both of which change in efficiency over development. ESC is an important driver of children's learning because it combines the power of active learning and intrinsic motivation with the value of explanatory content, which can reveal the unobservable and causal structure of the world to support generalizable knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-20
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Volume35
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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