ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (8): 1427-1438.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.01427

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Children’s selective learning in the domain of causal knowledge

CHAI Kaixuan1,2, LI Yilin1,2, ZHU Liqi1()   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2018-11-15 Online:2019-07-26 Published:2019-06-25
  • Contact: Liqi ZHU


In the recent years, children’s selective learning has attracted wide-spread attention in the field of cognitive development. Specifically, understanding children’s selective learning in the domain of causal knowledge provides important insights for addressing a classic question in developmental research, namely how children acquire knowledge. Children generally acquire causal knowledge by identifying, evaluating and endorsing information from others. They actively seek explanations from reliable informants, and they select their responses based on the quality of the answers they have received. Since an early age, children can use verbal cues to distinguish explanatory responses from non-explanatory responses. Moreover, when given several explanations, they can tell which one is superior to others based on the structural characteristics of these explanations. Older children can even identify various modes of construal and adopt the appropriate one. Future studies could further investigate the roles of other exploratory characteristics in children’s selective causal learning. Researchers should also further address some controversial issues regarding the cognitive mechanisms of selective casual learning.

Key words: selective learning, causal knowledge, explanation-seeking, explanatory qualities/virtues, modes of construal

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