IC9 – How to know

Lecturer: Celeste Kidd
Fields: Developmental psychology, cognitive science, (and a tiny bit of neuroscience)


This talk will discuss Kidd’s research about how people come to know what they know. The world is a sea of information too vast for any one person to acquire entirely. How then do people navigate the information overload, and how do their decisions shape their knowledge and beliefs? In this talk, Kidd will discuss research from her lab about the core cognitive systems people use to guide their learning about the world—including attention, curiosity, and metacognition (thinking about thinking). The talk will discuss the evidence that people play an active role in their own learning, starting in infancy and continuing through adulthood. Kidd will explain why we are curious about some things but not others, and how our past experiences and existing knowledge shape our future interests. She will also discuss why people sometimes hold beliefs that are inconsistent with evidence available in the world, and how we might leverage our knowledge of human curiosity and learning to design systems that better support access to truth and reality.


I hope to introduce students to the approach of combining computational models with behavioural experiments in order to develop robust theories of the systems that govern human cognition, especially attention, curiosity, and learning. We will take a very high-level conceptual approach to these topics, and I also hope students will leave understanding something useful about how people solve the problem of sampling from the world in order to understand something profound about it. I hope students will leave with a better understanding about how a person’s past experiences and expectations combine in a way that influences their subsequent sampling decisions and beliefs.    


Optional to read: Kidd, C., & Hayden, B. Y. (2015). The psychology and neuroscience of curiosity. Neuron88(3), 449-460. https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(15)00767-9


Prof. Celeste Kidd

Celeste Kidd is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her lab investigates learning and belief formation using a combination of computational models and behavioural experiments. She earned her PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, then held brief visiting fellow positions at Stanford’s Center for the Study of Language and Information and MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences before starting up her own lab. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, the Human Frontiers Science Program, Google, and the Berkeley Center for New Media. Kidd also advocates for equity in educational opportunities, work for which she was made one of TIME Magazines 2017 Persons of the Year as one of the “Silence Breakers”. 

Affiliation: University of California, Berkeley
Website: www.kiddlab.com