Explanation-Seeking Curiosity in Childhood.


Liquin, E. G., & Lombrozo, T. (2020). Explanation-Seeking Curiosity in Childhood. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences , 2020 (35), 14-20.


Children are known for asking “why?”—a query motivated by their desire for explanations. Research suggests that explanation-seeking curiosity (ESC) is triggered by first person cues (such as novelty or surprise), third-person cues (such as a knowledgeable adults’ surprise or question), and future-oriented cues (such as expectations about information gain or future value). Once triggered, ESC is satisfied by an adequate explanation, typically obtained through causal intervention or question asking, both of which change in efficiency over development. ESC is an important driver of children’s learning because it combines the power of active learning and intrinsic motivation with the value of explanatory content, which can reveal the unobservable and causal structure of the world to support generalizable knowledge.

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Last updated on 11/13/2020