The Role of Uncertainty: Exploring the Nature of Children's Belief Formation in Balancing

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Brian Maltbie Blair Eberhart Alaekhiya Haq Heidi Kloos


By Brian Maltbie, Psychology; Blair Eberhart, Psychology; Alaekhiya Haq, Psychology

Advisor: Heidi Kloos

Presentation ID: PM_C06

Abstract: Past experiments have found that children tend to believe every object balances at its geometric center. The goal of this research is to test what causes such beliefs to develop. Our specific hypothesis was that adding uncertainty would change how the beliefs formed. To test this hypothesis we carried out an experiment with 3-5 year old children. Materials included balancing blocks that differed not only in their weight distributions, but also in their visual symmetry: Some blocks looked symmetrical, but balanced off the geometric center. These blocks are thought to create uncertainty. There are two conditions, the first condition is given blocks with low uncertainty to balance, the second condition is given blocks with high uncertainty to balance. The participants were first asked to balance the set of high or low uncertainty blocks twice. Then, both conditions balanced all nine blocks. We predict that children in the high uncertainty condition will be more persistent in their na�ve belief, giving insight into the nature of na�ve belief formation.

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PM Poster Session -- Great Hall -- C: Teaching & Learning