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The social nature of learning

Dr. Pat Shafto

Thursday, November 13, 2014, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

University of Louisville, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

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Research in cognition has primarily focused on understanding learning as belief updating in light of data. I will argue that this asocial approach overlooks a key source of the power of human learning. Using a computational and behavioral methods, I will present three lines of evidence illustrating the importance and potentially foundational role of social reasoning in learning. First, situations in which data are chosen by a knowledgeable and helpful informant lead to inferential affordances not licensed by the data alone, and children and adults leverage these affordances. Second, tracking who is knowledgeable and helpful is thus important for learning, attended to by the onset of formal schooling, and a malleable factor for affecting educational outcomes. Third, a presumption of helpful informants leads to an a priori account for observed concept learning biases.

Dr. Pat Shafto