Azzurra Ruggeri

Azzurra Ruggeri
Max Planck Institute for Human Development | MPIB · MPRG iSearch

Psychology

About

66
Publications
12,556
Reads
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763
Citations
Citations since 2017
49 Research Items
726 Citations
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2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
Additional affiliations
December 2016 - February 2022
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Position
  • Group Leader
December 2013 - present
University of California, Berkeley
Position
  • Researcher
November 2013 - present
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Position
  • Researcher

Publications

Publications (66)
Article
The capacity to search for information effectively by asking informative questions is crucial for self-directed learning and develops throughout the preschool years and beyond. We tested the hypothesis that explaining observations in a given domain prepares children to ask more informative questions in that domain, and that it does so by promoting...
Article
Previous research has suggested that active engagement with the world drives children's remarkable learning capabilities. We investigated whether preschoolers are "ecological learners," that is, whether they are able to select those active learning strategies that are most informative in a given task. Children had to choose which of two exploratory...
Article
This paper investigates whether active control of study leads to enhanced learning in 5-to 11-year-old children. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants played a simple memory game with the instruction to try to remember and later recognize a set of 64 objects. In Experiment 3, the goal was to learn the French names for the same objects. For half of t...
Preprint
Full-text available
How do children and adults differ in their search for rewards? We consider three different hypotheses that attribute developmental differences to either children's increased random sampling, more directed exploration towards uncertain options, or narrower generalization. Using a search task in which noisy rewards are spatially correlated on a grid,...
Article
Full-text available
Although children's sensitivity to others' informativeness emerges early in life, their active information search becomes robustly efficient only around age 10. Young children's difficulty in asking efficient questions has often been hypothesized to be linked to their developing verbal competence and growing vocabulary. In this paper, we offer for...
Article
In this study we investigated how 14- to 17-year-olds (n = 48) search the web for information about unsettled scientific dilemmas. In particular, we addressed to what extent adolescents' capability to appraise accurate web sources, learn, and mold informed opinions is influenced by the quality of their online search strategies, the control they exe...
Article
This article introduces ecological active learning, a developmental framework that focuses on children’s ability to adapt and tailor their active-learning strategies to the particular structure and characteristics of a learning environment. Results of seminal studies indicate that efficient, adaptive search strategies emerge around 3 years of age,...
Article
We explore how children and adults actively experiment within the physical world to achieve different epistemic goals. In our experiment, one hundred one 4- to 10-year-old children and 24 adults either passively observed or used a touchscreen interface to actively interact with objects in a dynamic physical microworld with the goal of inferring one...
Article
Full-text available
Changing one variable at a time while controlling others is a key aspect of scientific experimentation and a central component of STEM curricula. However, children reportedly struggle to learn and implement this strategy. Why do children’s intuitions about how best to intervene on a causal system conflict with scientific practices? Mathematical ana...
Preprint
We explore how children and adults actively experiment within the physical world to achieve different epistemic goals. In our experiment, 101 4-10-year-old children and 24 adults either passively observed or used a touchscreen interface to actively interact with objects in a dynamic physical microworld with the goal of inferring one of two latent p...
Article
We investigate whether a spatial representation of a search task supports 4- to 7-year-old children's information-search strategies, relative to their performance in a question-asking game. Children played two computationally and structurally analogous search games: a spatial search task, the maze-exploration game, in which they had to discover the...
Chapter
Humans constantly search for and use information to solve a wide range of problems related to survival, social interactions, and learning. While it is clear that curiosity and the drive for knowledge occupies a central role in defining what being human means to ourselves, where does this desire to know the unknown come from? What is its purpose? An...
Article
Zusammenfassung. Einleitung: Das Konzept des aktiven Lernens gewinnt zunehmend an Bedeutung und ist mit entsprechenden Lerntheorien sowie Unterrichtstechniken einhergegangen. Der Begriff des aktiven Lernens umfasst eine große Bandbreite an Konzepten, wodurch ein Verständnis einzelner, dem aktiven Lernen zugrundeliegender kognitiver Prozesse erschwe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Analogies to stochastic optimization are common in developmental psychology, describing a gradual reduction in randomness over the lifespan. Yet for lack of concrete empirical comparison, there is ambiguity in how to interpret this analogy. Using data from n=281 participants ages 5 to 55, we show that "cooling off'" does not only apply to the singl...
Preprint
Previous research shows that children evaluate the competence of others based on how effectively someone accomplished a goal (e.g., success vs. failure, time needed, number of attempts needed). We investigate whether 5- to 10-year-old children and adults infer competence from how efficiently someone solves a task. Whereas efficiency is a reliable i...
Article
Explanations highlight inductively rich relationships that support further generalizations: if a knife is sharp because it is for cutting, we can infer that other things for cutting might also be sharp. Do children see explanations as good guides to generalization? We asked 108 4- to 7-year-old children to evaluate mechanistic, functional, and cate...
Article
To successfully navigate an uncertain world, one has to learn the relationship between cues (e.g., wind speed, atmospheric pressure) and outcomes (e.g., rain). When learning, it is possible to actively manipulate the cue values to test hypotheses about this relationship directly. Across two studies, we investigated how 5- to 7-year-olds actively le...
Preprint
One of the greatest challenges for artificial intelligence is how to behave adaptively in scenarios with uncertain or no rewards. One---and perhaps the only---way to approach such complex learning problems is to build simple algorithms that grow into sophisticated adaptive agents, just like children do. But what drives children to explore and learn...
Article
Research suggests that children prefer to seek help from informants who demonstrate active-learning competence. What do children infer from the ability to ask informative questions? This project explores developmental changes in what 3- to 9-year-old children and adults (N = 240) infer from informants’ question-asking competence (Study 1a and b), a...
Article
Full-text available
Dealing with uncertainty and different degrees of frequency and probability is critical in many everyday activities. However, relevant information does not always come in the form of numerical estimates or direct experiences, but is instead obtained through qualitative, rather vague verbal terms (e.g., “the virus often causes coughing” or “the trai...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we investigated how children interact with voice assistants, particularly focusing on what kinds of questions they ask and how they react to the responses obtained. We recorded 3‐ to 10‐year‐old children's (N = 43) spontaneous interactions with Amazon Alexa, and analyzed the questions they asked, as well as how they adjusted their in...
Article
Full-text available
Human motor skills are exceptional compared to other species, no less than their cognitive skills. In this perspective paper, we suggest that “movement matters!,” implying that motor development is a crucial driving force of cognitive development, much more impactful than previously acknowledged. Thus, we argue that to fully understand and explain...
Preprint
In this study we investigated how 14- to 17-year-olds (n = 48) search the web for information about unsettled scientific dilemmas. In particular, we addressed to what extent adolescents' capability to appraise accurate web sources, learn, and mold informed opinions is influenced by the quality of their online search strategies, the control they exe...
Article
Full-text available
Are young children just random explorers who learn serendipitously? Or are even young children guided by uncertainty-directed sampling, seeking to explore in a systematic fashion? We study how children between the ages of 4 and 9 search in an explore-exploit task with spatially-correlated rewards, where exhaustive exploration is infeasible and not...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we investigate the informativeness of 4- to 6-year-old (N = 125) children’s questions using a combined qualitative and quantitative approach. Children were presented with a hierarchical version of the 20-questions game, in which they were given an array of objects that could be organized into three category levels based on shared fea...
Preprint
Full-text available
Dealing with uncertainty and different degrees of frequency and probability is critical in many everyday activities. However, relevant information does not always come in the form of numerical estimates or direct experiences, but is instead obtained through qualitative, rather vague verbal terms (e.g., “the virus often causes coughing” or “the trai...
Preprint
Full-text available
We investigate whether a spatial representation of a search task supports 4- to 7-year-old children’s information-search strategies, relative to their performance in a question-asking game. In Experiment 1, children played two computationally and structurally analogous search games: a spatial search task, the maze-exploration game, in which they ha...
Presentation
Full-text available
5-minute presentation at the online CogSci conference 2020
Article
Lay abstract: Research with adults and typically developing children has shown that being able to actively control their learning experience, that is, to decide what to learn, when, and at what pace, can boost learning in a variety of contexts. In particular, previous research has shown a robust advantage of active control for episodic memory as c...
Preprint
Full-text available
To successfully navigate in an uncertain world, one has to learn the relationship between cues (e.g., symptoms) and an outcome (e.g., disease). During this learning, it is sometimes possible to actively manipulate the cue values, allowing one to test hypotheses about this relationship directly. Across two studies, we investigated how 5- to 7-year-o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Are young children just random explorers who learn serendipitously? Or are even young children guided by uncertainty-directed sampling, seeking to explore in a systematic fashion? We study how children between the ages of 4 and 9 search in an explore-exploit task with spatially-correlated rewards, where exhaustive exploration is infeasible and not...
Preprint
From an early age, children prefer to query and rely on informants who are knowledgeable, informative and reliable. Recent research suggests that, when deciding whom to ask for help, children also take into account the process by which an informant had learned, from which they infer an active learning competence that signals the ability to solve si...
Preprint
Full-text available
Changing one variable at a time while controlling others is a key aspect of scientific experimentation and is a central component of STEM curricula. However, children struggle to learn and implement this strategy. Why do children's intuitions about how best to intervene on a causal system conflict with accepted scientific practices? Interestingly,...
Poster
Full-text available
Two studies, one completed, one in progress, about children's selectivity of information in terms of relevance ("Would knowing this help me with my goal?") and its frequency or distribution in the environment ("Should I prioritize this aspect before learning about the other?"). Watch a 5-minute presentation (worth it): https://ephemeralcontrapti...
Preprint
What drives human search in situations with sparse rewards? We let preschoolers (age 24-52 months) play a game in which they had to search for an animal and measured their persistence in the absence of explicit rewards. Crucially, we either told children which animal they were searching for (known animal condition), so that they gained no additiona...
Article
Full-text available
How do children and adults differ in their search for rewards? We considered three different hypotheses that attribute developmental differences to (a) children’s increased random sampling, (b) more directed exploration toward uncertain options, or (c) narrower generalization. Using a search task in which noisy rewards were spatially correlated on...
Article
How do children and adults search for information when stepwise-optimal strategies fail to identify the most efficient query? The value of questions is often measured in terms of stepwise information gain (expected reduction of entropy on the next time step) or other stepwise-optimal methods. However, such myopic models are not guaranteed to identi...
Article
Full-text available
What is the best way of discovering the underlying structure of a causal system composed of multiple variables? One prominent idea is that learners should manipulate each candidate variable in isolation to avoid confounds (sometimes known as the control of variables [CV] strategy). We demonstrate that CV is not always the most efficient method for...
Article
Little is known about how children generate options for taking action in familiar situations or how they select which action option to actually perform. In this article, we explore the interplay between option generation and selection from a developmental perspective using sports as a testbed. In a longitudinal design with four measurement waves, w...
Conference Paper
How do people actively explore to learn about functional relationships , that is, how continuous inputs map onto continuous outputs? We introduce a novel paradigm to investigate information search in continuous, multi-feature function learning scenarios. Participants either actively selected or passively observed information to learn about an under...
Preprint
Full-text available
How do people actively explore to learn about functional relationships, that is, how continuous inputs map onto continuous outputs? We introduce a novel paradigm to investigate information search in continuous, multi-feature function learning scenarios. Participants either actively selected or passively observed information to learn about an underl...
Preprint
This paper investigates whether active control of study leads to enhanced learning in 5- to 10-year-olds. Children played a simple memory game. In Experiments 1 and 2, the goal was to remember as many as possible from 64 objects. In Experiment 3, the goal was to learn the French names for the same objects. For half of the materials presented, parti...
Preprint
What is the best way of discovering the underlying structure of a causal system composed of multiple variables? One prominent idea is that learners should manipulate each candidate variable in isolation to avoid confounds (sometimes known as the “Control of Variables” or CV strategy). We demonstrate that CV is not always the most efficient method f...
Article
We investigated the effects of two context variables, presentation format (icon arrays or numerical frequencies) and time limitation (limited or unlimited time), on the proportional reasoning abilities of children aged 7 and 10 years, as well as adults. Participants had to select, between two sets of tokens, the one that offered the highest likelih...
Article
This study explores how the age (adult vs. peer) and the suggestion (to be fair vs. unfair) of models affect the sharing decisions of 9- and 12-year-olds (N = 365) from Italy and Singapore. Results demonstrate a developmental shift in the influence of models on children's and adolescents’ sharing decisions in both cultures: Children's decisions wer...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In everyday life, before deciding what to do, one has to think about what could be done. We investigate option generation from a developmental perspective, testing the predictions of the Take-The-First-heuristic (TTF). Moreover, we examine the influence of time limitation on decision-making processes. Using soccer as a testbed, 6- to 13-year-ol...
Article
The current study investigates whether preschoolers are able to successfully identify the most effective among given questions, adapting their reliance on different types of questions (constraint-seeking vs. hypothesis-scanning) based on the quantitative measure of expected information gain. Children were presented with storybooks describing the re...
Article
Children are active learners: they learn not only from the information people offer and the evidence they happen to observe, but by actively seeking information. However, children’s information search strategies are typically less efficient than those of adults. In two studies, we isolate potential sources of developmental change in how children (7...
Article
Full-text available
Judgments about objects in the world are often based on probabilistic information (or cues). A frugal judgment strategy that utilizes memory (i.e., the ability to discriminate between known and unknown objects) as a cue for inference is the recognition heuristic (RH). The usefulness of the RH depends on the structure of the environment, particularl...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper reports an experiment testing whether volitional control over the presentation of stimuli leads to enhanced recognition memory in 6-to 8-year-old children. Children were presented with a simple memory game on an iPad. During the study phase, for half of the materials children could decide the order and pacing of stimuli presentation (act...
Article
Full-text available
Brainstorming research has claimed that individuals are more creative than groups. However, these conclusions are largely based on measuring creativity by the number of ideas generated, and researchers have tended to neglect other important components of creativity, such as the quality of developed ideas. These studies aim to address this gap in th...
Article
Despite widespread consensus among educators that active learning leads to better outcomes than comparatively passive forms of instruction, it is often unclear why these benefits arise. In this article, we review research showing that the opportunity to control the information experienced while learning leads to improved memory relative to situatio...
Article
Full-text available
Citation: Ruggeri A and Feufel MA (2015) How basic-level objects facilitate question-asking in a categorization task. Front. Psychol. 6:918. The ability to categorize information is essential to everyday tasks such as identifying the cause of an event given a set of likely explanations or pinpointing the correct from a set of possible diagnoses by...
Article
We used a cue-generation and a cue-selection paradigm to investigate the cues children (9- to 12-year-olds) and young adults (17-year-olds) generate and select for a range of inferences from memory. We found that children generated more cues than young adults, who, when asked why they did not generate some particular cues, responded that they did n...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Like scientists, children and adults learn by asking questions and making interventions. How does this ability develop? We investigate how children (7- and 10-year-olds) and adults search for information to learn which kinds of objects share a novel causal property. In particular, we consider whether children ask questions and select interventions...
Article
Full-text available
Objective What role should minors play in making medical decisions? The authors examined children's and adolescents' desire to be involved in serious medical decisions and the emotional consequences associated with them. Methods Sixty-three children and 76 adolescents were presented with a cover story about a difficult medical choice. Participants...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
One way to learn about the world is by asking questions. We investigate how children (n= 287, 7-to 11-year olds) and young adults (n=160 17-to 18-year olds) ask questions to identify the cause of an event. We find a developmental shift in children's reliance on hypothesis-scanning questions (which test hypotheses directly) versus constraint-seeking...
Article
Full-text available
People show higher sensitivity to dread risks, rare events that kill many people at once, compared with continuous risks, relatively frequent events that kill many people over a longer period of time. The different reaction to dread risks is often considered a bias: If the continuous risk causes the same number of fatalities, it should not be perce...
Article
Full-text available
![Figure][1] CREDIT: [ISTOCKPHOTO.COM][2] Newton needed an apple, Franklin a flash, Galileo a telescope, and Archimedes a crown. What do these people have in common? They observed a phenomenon that they could not explain, devoted their lives to investigating it, and in doing so achieved

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Projects (2)
Project
The goal of the project is to map and measure changes in judgment and decision processes across the life span. For instance, how do basic mechanisms of processing gains and losses develop? How does adaptive selection of heuristics and other decision strategies change and differ from childhood to young adulthood to older age? How does decision making under risk differ between younger and older adults and what are the cognitive and emotional changes that accompany these dyanamics in decision making?
Project
Climbing to yourself - A developmental embodied cognition perspective on the relation between the minimal self and sensorimotor and cognitive skills: The objective of this project is to understand the bidirectional link between the minimal self and sensorimotor as well as cognitive skills from a developmental embodied cognition perspective. By integrating cognitive, developmental and movement science, we tackle one of the ultimate goals of the SPP call by exploring how core mechanisms (i.e., internal models, reafferences) generate a self in the course of ontogenetic development (i.e., across the lifespan) or the acquisition of expertise (i.e., training sensorimotor and cognitive skills).