Preschoolers are Sensitive to their Performance Over Time

AbstractTracking one’s performance over time is essential to efficient self-guided learning but it is not clear whether young children can accurately monitor their past performance. Here, we looked at whether 4-6-year-olds can use the trajectory of their past performance to allocate future resources. Across four experiments (N = 274), we found that children were sensitive to their rate of change in past performance: Children assigned to a condition in which they got better over time were more likely to take on challenges and teach others than children in conditions where they got worse or stayed the same. Furthermore, children privileged their rate and direction of change more than their total or final score. These results suggest that young children monitor their rate of improvement and can use this information to guide their future efforts.

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