Show or Tell? Demonstration is More Robust to Changes in Shared Perception than Explanation

Theodore R. Sumers, Mark K. Ho, Thomas L. Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Successful teaching entails a complex interaction between a teacher and a learner. The teacher must select and convey information based on what they think the learner perceives and believes. Teaching always involves misaligned beliefs, but studies of pedagogy often focus on situations where teachers and learners share perceptions. Nonetheless, a teacher and learner may not always experience or attend to the same aspects of the environment. Here, we study how misaligned perceptions influence communication. We hypothesize that the efficacy of different forms of communication depends on the shared perceptual state between teacher and learner. We develop a cooperative teaching game to test whether concrete mediums (demonstrations, or “showing”) are more robust than abstract ones (language, or “telling”) when the teacher and learner are not perceptually aligned. We find evidence that (1) language-based teaching is more affected by perceptual misalignment, but (2) demonstration-based teaching is less likely to convey nuanced information. We discuss implications for human pedagogy and machine learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages3073-3079
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2020
Event42nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Developing a Mind: Learning in Humans, Animals, and Machines, CogSci 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 29 2020Aug 1 2020

Conference

Conference42nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Developing a Mind: Learning in Humans, Animals, and Machines, CogSci 2020
CityVirtual, Online
Period7/29/208/1/20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • communication
  • demonstrations
  • language
  • pedagogy

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