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Stepwise versus globally optimal search in children and adults

Meder, Björn, Nelson, Jonathan D., Jones, Matt and Ruggeri, Azzurra (2019) Stepwise versus globally optimal search in children and adults Cognition, 191, 103965. pp. 1-18.

Stepwise_versus_globally_optimal_search_in_children_and_adults_preprint.pdf - Accepted version Manuscript

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How do children and adults search for information when stepwise-optimal strategies fail to identify the most efficient query? The value of questions is often measured in terms of stepwise information gain (expected reduction of entropy on the next time step) or other stepwise-optimal methods. However, such myopic models are not guaranteed to identify the most efficient sequence of questions, that is, the shortest path to the solution. In two experiments we contrast stepwise methods with globally optimal strategies and study how younger children (around age 8, N = 52), older children (around age 10, N = 99), and adults (N = 101) search in a 20-questions game where planning ahead is required to identify the most efficient first question. Children searched as efficiently as adults, but also as myopically. Both children and adults tended to rely on heuristic stepwise-optimal strategies, focusing primarily on questions’ implications for the next time step, rather than planning ahead.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Meder, Björn
Nelson, Jonathan
Jones, Matt
Ruggeri, Azzurra
Date : October 2019
DOI : 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.05.002
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Uncontrolled Keywords : Sequential search; Information gain; Stepwise-optimal methods; 20-questions game; Split-half heuristic; Entropy; Search efficiency; Planning
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 04 Oct 2019 09:15
Last Modified : 13 Aug 2020 02:08

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