Washington: Ever wondered why
young children ask so many "why" questions? Well, a new research
says children are motivated by a desire for explanation.
The study, by
researchers at the University of Michigan, appears in the
November/December 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.
carried out two studies of 2- to 5-year-olds, focusing on their
"how" and "why" questions, as well as their requests for explanatory
information, and looking carefully at the children's reactions to
the answers they received from adults.
In the first
study, the researchers examined longitudinal transcripts of six
children's everyday conversations with parents, siblings, and
visitors at home from ages 2 to 4. In the second study, they looked
at the laboratory-based conversations of 42 preschoolers, using
toys, storybooks, and videos to prompt the children, ages 3 to 5, to
By looking at how
the children reacted to the answers they received to their
questions, the researchers found that children seem to be more
satisfied when they receive an explanatory answer than when they do
not. In both studies, when preschoolers got an explanation, they
seemed satisfied (they agreed or asked a new follow-up question). ut
when they got answers that weren't explanations, they seemed
dissatisfied and were more likely to repeat their original question
or provide an alternative explanation.
conversational exchanges, and in particular children's reactions to
the different types of information they get from adults in response
to their own requests, confirms that young children are motivated to
actively seek explanations," according to the researchers.
"They use specific
conversational strategies to obtain that information. When
preschoolers ask 'why' questions, they're not merely trying to
prolong conversation, they're trying to get to the bottom of
things," they added.
sample size means that the study cannot be generalized to all
children, but the research clearly suggests that by age 2, children
contribute actively to the process of learning about the world
around them. (ANI)