Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Committee Chair

Shafto, Patrick

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Danovitch, Judith

Committee Member

Nasraoui, Olfa

Committee Member

Noles, Nicholaus

Committee Member

Pani, John


Cognitive learning; Social learning; Learning, Psychology of


Infants rely on others for much of what they learn. People are a ready source of quick information, but people produce data differently than the world. Data from a person are a result of that person's knowledgeability and intentions. People may produce inaccurate or misleading data. On the other hand, if a person is knowledgeable about the world and intends to teach, that person may produce data that are more useful than simply accurate data: data that are pedagogical. This idea that people have special innate methods for efficient information transfer lies at the heart of recent proposals regarding what makes humans such powerful knowledge accumulators. These innate assumptions result in developmental patterns observed in epistemic trust research. This research seeks to create a computational account of the development of these abilities. We argue that pedagogy is not innate, but rather that people learn to learn from others. We employ novel computational models to show that there is sufficient data early on from which infants may learn that people choose data pedagogically, that the development of children's epistemic trust is primarily a result of their decreasing beliefs that all informants are helpful, and that innate pedagogy would not lead to more rapid learning. We connect results from the pedagogy and epistemic trust literatures across tasks and development, showing that these are different manifestations of the same underlying abilities, and show that pedagogy need not be innate to have powerful implications for learning.

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Psychology Commons