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Social Evaluation and Communication in Early Childhood: Linking Social Learning and Pragmatics

Date and Time: 
Thursday, November 16, 2017. 03:00 PM - 04:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Building 460, Room 126
Cognition and Language Workshop 2017
Meeting Description: 

What we know about the world is heavily mediated by what others know, and in turn, we influence others’ knowledge by sharing our own. Even though social learning involves both processes - being informed and informing others - young children have been typically characterized as learners who receive and accept information from adults. In this talk, I will present a set of recent studies that highlight young children’s ability to (1) evaluate informants based on the quality of information they provide, and (2) communicate information in ways that are tailored to learners’ needs. Collectively, these studies suggest that young children are not just passive recipients of social information; they actively evaluate teachers who are under-informative or over-informative, and teach others in ways that are relevant and sufficient (yet not superfluous), depending on what the learner wants, knows, and needs. I will also highlight an interesting parallel between children’s evaluation of under-informative informants and the development of pragmatic implicature, suggesting that early pragmatic competence manifests in children’s interpretation and production of communicative behaviors regardless of whether such behaviors involve linguistic utterances or goal-directed behaviors.

Hyowon Gweon is assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University.