Understanding others’ knowledge certainty from inference and information-seeking behaviors in children.

The current study investigated whether children understand the conditions under which another agent would hold uncertain knowledge resulting from inferential processes and, more importantly, whether children can make causal inferences about the relationship between the certainty of an agent’s epistemic states and consequent behavioral strategies. We developed a game in which 3 blocks (2 of identical color) were hidden in 3 boxes. After the content of the 1st box was revealed, the player was asked to choose between 2 strategies: either make an immediate guess or look in the 2nd box before guessing the color of the block in the 3rd box. We varied the hiding sequence of the 3 blocks to create 2 conditions with differing degrees of certainty. Children aged 5 to 7 watched another agent playing the game and reasoned about the individual’s epistemic states and behaviors. Not until 6 years of age did children display stable competence in using the certainty of another agent’s knowledge to predict the agent’s subsequent behaviors. Moreover, the ability to reason from information-seeking behaviors to uncertain epistemic states lagged until 7 years old. Our findings suggest that reasoning between epistemic states and information-seeking behavior undergoes significant developmental changes between ages 5 and 7. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)