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Are Children Sensitive to What They Know?: An Insight from Yucatec Mayan Children

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 Department of Psychology, Health, and Professional Development, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK
  • | 2 Department of Linguistics, Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS)Mexico CityMexico
  • | 3 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, Ludwig Maximilians UniversityMunichGermany
  • | 4 Department of Cognitive Science, Institut Jean-Nicod, École Normale SupérieureParisFrance
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Abstract

Metacognitive abilities are considered as a hallmark of advanced human cognition. Existing empirical studies have exclusively focused on populations from Western and industrialized societies. Little is known about young children’s metacognitive abilities in other societal and cultural contexts. Here we tested 4-year-old Yucatec Mayan (a rural native population from Mexico) by adopting a metacognitive task in which children’s explicit assessment of their own knowledge states about the hidden content of a container and their informing judgments (whether or not to inform an ignorant person about the hidden contents of a container) were assessed. Similar to previous studies, we found that Yucatec Mayan children overestimated their knowledge states in the explicit metacognitive task. However, in contrast with studies on Western children, we did not find the facilitating effect of the implicit informing task over the explicit task. These findings suggest that the early development of metacognition combines universal and culture-sensitive features.

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