Infants ask for help when they know they don’t know

Article


Goupil, L., Romand-Monnier, M. and Kouider, S. 2016. Infants ask for help when they know they don’t know. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113 (13), pp. 3492-3496. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1515129113
AuthorsGoupil, L., Romand-Monnier, M. and Kouider, S.
Abstract

Uncertainty monitoring is a core property of metacognition, allowing individuals to adapt their decision-making strategies depending on the state of their knowledge. Although it has been argued that other animals share these metacognitive abilities, only humans seem to possess the ability to explicitly communicate their own uncertainty to others. It remains unknown whether this capacity is present early in development, or whether it emerges later with the ability to verbally report one’s own mental states. Here, using a nonverbal memory-monitoring paradigm, we show that 20-month-olds can monitor and report their own uncertainty. Infants had to remember the location of a hidden toy before pointing to indicate where they wanted to recover it. In an experimental group, infants were given the possibility to ask for help through nonverbal communication when they had forgotten the toy location. Compared with a control group in which infants had no other option but to decide by themselves, infants given the opportunity to ask for help used this option strategically to improve their performance. Asking for help was used selectively to avoid making errors and to decline difficult choices. These results demonstrate that infants are able to successfully monitor their own uncertainty and share this information with others to fulfill their goals.

JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Journal citation113 (13), pp. 3492-3496
ISSN0027-8424
Year2016
PublisherNational Academy of Sciences
Accepted author manuscript
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File Access Level
Anyone
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1515129113
Publication dates
Online07 Mar 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited23 Nov 2020
Accepted27 Jan 2016
Copyright holder© 2016 The Authors
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