Saturday, 27 April 2013

kid's logic: the tooth fairy; monster or puppy in box

Two things, I think both from the same podcast, I think This American Life rather than Radiolab, which was on the theme of kid's logic.

I don't remember the names, but let's say the two little girls are Emily and Jane. Emily has found out who it is who takes the tooth from under the pillow and puts money there: her dad. She tells this to Jane. Jane goes to her mum and says, I know who the tooth fairy is. Who? Jane says, Emily's dad. For some time thereafter she continues to believe this. Striking thing, of course, that she didn't think it was everyone's dad doing the honours in their own house. When you're learning so much about the world, no reason to be surprised by something new which to adults might seem ridiculous, especially when you're told so many other things which are true which to a child may seem magical or inexplicable.

The other thing, a psychology experiment. Experimenter in room with child. There is a box, which at some point the child is shown is empty; the experimenter plays a game with the child and together they imagine that there is either a monster or a puppy in the box. In due course the experimenter goes out of the room. When the child is left in the room with the box, one of two things happen: if they imagined there was a monster in the box, the child will edge away from it; if they imagined a puppy, the child will look in the box.