Associate Professor of Psychology
New York University
Location: Levin Auditorium (425 S. University Ave.)
Asking the Right Questions About Human Inquiry
The ability to act on the world with the goal of gaining information (e.g., asking questions, intervening on a novel mechanism to determine how it works, etc…) is what makes humans such an adaptable and intelligent species. Perhaps the most successful and influential account of such abilities is the Optimal Experiment Design (OED) hypothesis, which argues that humans intuitively perform experiments on the world similar to the way an effective scientist plans an experiment. The widespread application of this theory within many areas of psychology calls for a critical evaluation of the theory’s core claims. Despite many successes, I will argue that the OED hypothesis remains lacking as a theory of human inquiry and that research in this area often fails to confront some of the most interesting and important questions about inquiry. In developing this argument I will draw from a variety of empirical studies in my lab looking at how people actively inquire about the world in order to learn.