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Speaker(s): Professor Alison Gopnik
Chair: Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

Recorded on 11 May 2017 at Old Theatre, Old Building

In the past 15 years, we have discovered that even young children are adept at inferring causal relationship. But are there differences in the ways that younger children, older children and adults learn? And do socioeconomic status and culture make a difference?

Alison Gopnik will present several studies showing a surprising pattern. Not only can preschoolers learn abstract higher-order principles from data, but younger learners are actually better at inferring unusual or unlikely principles than older learners and adults. This pattern also holds for children in Peru and in Headstart programs in Oakland, California. Alison Gopnik relates this pattern to computational ideas about search and sampling, to evolutionary ideas about human life history, and to neuroscience findings about the negative effects of frontal control on wide exploration. Gopnik's hypothesis is that our distinctively long, protected human childhood allows an early period of broad hypothesis search, exploration and creativity, before the demands of goal-directed action set in.

Alison Gopnik (@AlisonGopnik) is Professor of Psychology and Affiliate Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Sandra Jovchelovitch is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE where she directs the MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology.

The Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science (@PsychologyLSE) study and teach societal psychology: the psychology of humans in complex socio-technical systems (organisations, communities, societies). Our research deals with real-world issues, we train the future global leaders.

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