University of Hawaii System newsletter

Examining Childhood Curiosity

Posted on | November 20, 2009 | 1 Comment

Mānoa Assistant Professor Brandy Frazier researched curiosity in preschool-aged children, focusing on their “how and why” questions. In the study, Frazier and co-researchers at the University of Michigan carried out two studies of 2- to 5-year-olds, focusing on their “how” and “why” questions, as well as their requests for explanatory information, and carefully examined the children’s reactions to the answers they received from adults. The paper was published in Child Development.

By looking at how the children reacted to the answers they received to their questions, the researchers found that children seem to be more satisfied when they receive an explanatory answer than when they do not. In both studies, when preschoolers got an explanation, they seemed satisfied (they agreed or asked a new follow-up question). In addition, when the children received answers that were not explanations, they seemed dissatisfied and were more likely to repeat their original question or provide an alternative explanation.

While the moderate sample size means that the study cannot yet be generalized to all children, the research clearly suggests that by age 2, children contribute actively to the process of learning about the world around them.

Read the news release.