According to a recent study, children learn better than adults because they explore more than adults.
According to the study, when individuals try something new and have a poor experience, they are unlikely to do it again.
"That might seem like the most fundamental sort of intelligence—even rats avoid a path that leads to a shock," noted one of the co-authors, Dr. Alison Gopnik, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley.
"We will never learn that the world is more complicated than that," she warned, if adults promptly reject something new after getting a terrible result.
According to the study, children have a tremendous curiosity and drive to explore, which allows them to learn so many different things and so quickly.
She did a research experiment with NYU cognitive scientist Emily Liquin to see if young children's desire to explore more than adults effects the way they learn.
They provided 64 young children (ages four and five) and 87 adults a game in which they individually placed different blocks on a machine with one rule: if the machine lights up, they win a prize consisting of a star, but if it doesn't light up, they lose twice as much.
The purpose of the game was to discover that all of the blocks except those with white spots worked (in other words, the ones with black spots were fine).
The majority of the children properly figured out the rule, although more than 70% of adults did not, but it came at a cost: The kids received fewer stars.
She refers to it as a "learning trap" experiment, demonstrating that adults typically jump to conclusions too quickly, but youngsters are more eager to investigate and absorb more information before making a decision.
According to the publication, the study has a major drawback in that it only analyzed four to seven-year-olds compared to adults in the United States. Because cultural variations may also play a role in how children learn, additional research is needed to generalize it to a larger population and setting.
"We grown-ups are frequently so eager to exploit that we don't explore, so fearful of losing stars that we miss the chance to learn something new," Gopnik says.
"Children, on the other hand, are natural explorers who are willing to sacrifice stars for the sake of knowledge. Both styles of thinking are required for survival, but we adults could learn something from those insatiably curious children "She continued.