Two-Year-Olds’ Eye Movements Reflect Confidence in Their Understanding of Words

Isabelle Dautriche, Louise Goupil, Kenny Smith, Hugh Rabagliati

Psychological Science, 2022.@HAL

We studied the fundamental issue of whether children evaluate the reliability of their language interpretation, that is, their confidence in understanding words. In two experiments, 2-year-olds (Experiment 1: N = 50; Experiment 2: N = 60) saw two objects and heard one of them being named; both objects were then hidden behind screens and children were asked to look toward the named object, which was eventually revealed. When children knew the label used, they showed increased post-decision persistence after a correct compared with an incorrect anticipatory look, a marker of confidence in word comprehension (Experiment 1). When interacting with an unreliable speaker, children showed accurate word comprehension but reduced confidence in the accuracy of their own choice, indicating that children’s confidence estimates are influenced by social information (Experiment 2). Thus, by the age of 2 years, children can estimate their confidence during language comprehension, long before they can talk about their linguistic skills.


Posted in Featured publication.