As a developmental psychologist who studies cognition in children we were really excited
to be able to focus on a particular aspect of a cognitive bias, which is the development
of optimism in children.
So we’re often studying cognitive mechanisms and how children are using these to reason
about various aspects of the world around them, including other people’s thoughts
And we also are looking at how children are choosing to learn from other people as well.
So I’m going to talk about two lines of research.
One—which I’ll mostly talk about—is looking at the development of optimism in children,
我们非常感激Hope and Optimism Initiative的资金支持
which we were really grateful to the Hope and Optimism Initiative to fund, so that we
could do that.
And another line is looking at, outside of children, how we’re thinking about society
and how children’s own optimism might also apply to groups and society as well.
So for the purposes of operationalizing how we were going to go about studying optimism
and where to start looking at this in children, we took a working definition that’s come
这个定义来自于Tali Sharot 等会他会在这里与大家讲解 与在这个领域工作的其他人一样
from Tali Sharot, who’s going to speak here later, as well as others working in this field,
thinking about optimism as a cognitive bias.
And this is a bias to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes and to underestimate
the likelihood of negative outcomes.
在成人这方面已经有了大量研究 Mike 已经说过
And there’s been a lot of work on this with adults which Mike already talked about, and
等下Tali会细说 我就不在这里讲太多细节了 不出意外的话
Tali is going to speak about it and I’m not going to go into detail on it, but typically,
roughly we see 80 percent of the adult population is optimistic.
So what about kids?
I mean are kids optimistic in the same way as adults?
Do we see this optimism bias?
Now what we have seen in the data that we know to date is that kids are very positive.
They seem to be very positive about themselves, and interpret expectations for themselves
very positively, especially up to about six years of age or so.
But if you ask children, and you ask them to evaluate themselves, they tend to do this
这里有一个例子 一群孩子在跑道上 有一个女孩说
So here’s an example of watching a bunch of kids in a race, and one girl has pointed
out that she can’t run very fast, and another girl over there has pointed out she can run fast.
And a child is simply asked, “Which girl are you more like?”
好了 这就是我们通过简单问题 从小孩身上得到的数据
Okay, this is the way we can ask simple questions and get data out of kids.
And here’s a six-year-old girl’s typical answer, it would be something like: “Her.
I’m more like the fast girl.”
And kids will evaluate these on different scales but they tend toward optimism
now you might were positive at least having positive interpretations
You can also look at this in an academic realm and something that can be evaluated much more
easily, because you can ask for an adult evaluation of the situation.
So here’s a child, again up to roughly six or so years of age, you ask them, “How do
you do in school?”
And they say, “I’m really good.
I get mostly As and I get lots of stars on my papers.”
但如果你问他老师 回答就不一样 也就是个中等生吧
But if you ask the teacher they have a different answer: “About a B student.
Sometimes gets a star.”
你看 人在小时候的评估是积极的 但随后就
And what you see is this initial escalationin being positive, and then this starts to
become more realistic.
The child’s own view of themselves comes more in line with reality.
So we were asking the question: are children optimists or realists?
Because all of the previous work didn’t really look at optimism.
It looked only at positivity about self.
How about applying these kinds of things to different likelihoods of expectations out
there in the real world?
Now you might wonder, can kids even do that?
What about if kids can’t do the math?
You can’t give them these complicated math problems like, “eight out of 1000” or
“27人中有3个可能会……”这种问题 你知道的 对于这类问题
“three out of 27 people are likely to get…” you know, whatever these things are, and expect
them to weigh that in.
But, in fact, babies already by the end of the first year of life are really good at
doing these kinds of mental statistics and evaluating likelihood of probabilities.
Here’s one example but there are many, many that I could play for you.
这例子来自于我Berkeley的同事Fei Xu 他关注幼儿的概率推理能力
This comes from my colleague Fei Xu at Berkeley who looks at probabilistic reasoning in babies.
And here is a test that was just looking at whether babies have any expectation about
what sample should come out of whatever the sample they’re presented with is, and whether
they show surprise or not, given what that is.
So if you show them a box full of balls—in this case there are three different colors
of balls and there’s about a third of each color—and you choose a random sample, you
would predict, as an adult, that roughly one-third of the time you should get each ball color.
That’s not the sample that came out in this case.
And so what you can do is see whether babies are surprised that that sample was withdrawn
from there or whether they just don’t pay any attention, notice any difference to whether
the expected sample has come out.
实际上 他们挺惊讶的 当取出来的彩球
And, in fact, what they do is, they’re pretty surprised when the sample doesn’t match
the population from which it was drawn.
And we have collected data with 158 kids so far from a very wide range of sample of children
in the St. Louis area where I live.
These are kids of different racial and ethnic backgrounds coming from different economic populations.
最后 我想告诉你们的是 孩子们是如何
So one last task, I want to tell you about for this set is looking at how children view
people who are optimistic versus pessimistic.
Kids are much more likely to choose the optimistic person, not just the optimistic outcome.
They wanted to be friends with the person that had the positive response, and this often
happened even in the face of accuracy.
So we’re looking at this now too for learning and who they might rather learn from — an
optimistic person or a correct person?
And this is another field that’s had a lot of attention recently in developmental psychology,
that children really like to learn from and, in fact, like better, people who are reliable.
So we’re looking at how liking optimism and wanting to learn from someone who’s
optimistic has to reconcile with learning from somebody who is accurate and realistic
in that sense, because we do want to make proper sense of the world.
What I want you to take home from that though too is that children already, in the first
few years of life, do seem to have a propensity for optimistic viewing of things.
They tend to be optimistic, and we might be able to learn something by seeing that children
are making the same sort of mistakes or having the same kinds of biases as adults.
We might be able to learn something about the trajectory of this and get some insight
into how we as adults got the way we are.