Our thanks go to Cornelia Büchling, Gregor Caregnato, Uwe Czienskowski, Stefanie Dabrowski, Robert Habicht, Jutta Mata, and Sven Ohl. This work was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship of the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation to the first author, and a research grant from the German research foundation to the second and third authors (RI 1226/5).
When Easy Comes Hard: The Development of Adaptive Strategy Selection
Article first published online: 9 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Child Development © 2011 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 82, Issue 2, pages 687–700, March/April 2011
How to Cite
Mata, R., von Helversen, B. and Rieskamp, J. (2011), When Easy Comes Hard: The Development of Adaptive Strategy Selection. Child Development, 82: 687–700. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01535.x
- Issue published online: 24 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 9 MAR 2011
Can children learn to select the right strategy for a given problem? In one experiment, 9- to 10-year-olds (N = 50), 11- to 12-year-olds (N = 50), and adults (N = 50) made probabilistic inferences. Participants encountered environments favoring either an information-intensive strategy that integrates all available information or an information-frugal strategy that relies only on the most valid pieces of information. Nine- to 10-year-olds but not older children or adults had more difficulties learning to select an information-frugal strategy than an information-intensive strategy. This counterintuitive finding is explained by children’s less developed ability to selectively attend to relevant information, an ability that seems to develop during late childhood. The results suggest that whether a strategy can be considered “easy” depends on the development of specific cognitive abilities.