Dr. Brian Leahy (from Harvard University) will give a virtual talk at the CogSci Colloquium on Thursday, March 25, at 3 pm.
Title: Can’t you see the possibilities? Evidence that 3-year-olds cannot represent possibilities as such
Abstract:This presentation assembles an argument that most 3-year-olds lack the cognitive resources to represent events as merely possible.
It is important to distinguish representing an event that is merely possible from representing that an event is merely possible. Infants and insects make predictions: a male hoverfly, on spotting a female in motion, plots an interception path and meets her where she will be in a few moments, rather than chasing behind and trying to catch her. The male represents an event that is merely possible, since the female may change path. But he needn’t represent that the event is merely possible. He needn’t realize that she might not be at the meeting-point when he gets there. Perhaps he simply makes his prediction and works with it.
I will argue that when 3-year-olds are faced with multiple possibilities, they simply make a prediction and work with it. In situations where success depends on recognizing that there are multiple open possibilities, that things might and might not be as predicted, most 3-year-olds fail. Moreover, patterns in their errors suggest that children are adopting one of the possibilities as fact and working with it. I hypothesize that these children lack the conceptual resources to consider conflicting possibilities. They simply cannot see all the possibilities.
Dr. Leahy nicely agreed to have few single/small-group meetings after his talk. If you are interested in meeting him to discuss your own or his research, please register until Friday (March 19) by sending an e-mail to Lydia Schidelko (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The talk (& the meetings afterwards) will be held online, via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 917 1968 3913
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