According to a new study published in Science this week, babies learn more effectively from surprises than they do from expected events.
Cognitive psychologists Aimee E. Stahl and Lisa Feigenson performed four (seriously adorable) experiments with 11-month-old babies to observe how surprising and predictable events affect the way they learn new information. As the video from the study (above) shows, babies learn more about objects when the see them behaving unpredictably.
When the scientists showed the babies "surprising events" -- like a car or ball appearing to pass right through a wall -- the infants were much more likely to seek out more information about the car or ball by playing with it, touching it, and really focusing on it. When they saw the ball or car predictably stopped by the wall, they did not engage with it nearly as much.
Not only do the babies interact more with the "surprising" objects, but they also appear to, as Feigenson explains in the video, "test very specific hypotheses for the strange behavior." Stahl adds, "These results are important because it shows that infants can use their very sophisticate knowledge about the world, about how objects behave, to then harness or guide their future learning."
Baby geniuses indeed!