Cultural Variations in the Curse of Knowledge: the Curse of Knowledge Bias in Children from a Nomadic Pastoralist Culture in Kenya

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, Canada
  • | 2 , Inuvik, Canada
  • | 3 University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, Canada
  • | 4 Arizona State University, 900 S. Cady Mall, Tempe
  • | 5 University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, Canada
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We examined the universality of the curse of knowledge (i.e., the tendency to be biased by one’s knowledge when inferring other perspectives) by investigating it in a unique cross-cultural sample; a nomadic Nilo-Saharan pastoralist society in East Africa, the Turkana. Forty Turkana children were asked eight factual questions and asked to predict how widely-known those facts were among their peers. To test the effect of their knowledge, we taught children the answers to half of the questions, while the other half were unknown. Based on findings suggesting the bias’s universality, we predicted that children would estimate that more of their peers would know the answers to the questions that were taught versus the unknown questions. We also predicted that with age children would become less biased by their knowledge. In contrast, we found that only Turkana males were biased by their knowledge when inferring their peers’ perspectives, and the bias did not change with age. We discuss the implications of these findings.

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