Date of Original Version
Copyright Cognitive Science Society
Abstract or Description
Most learning models assume, either implicitly or explicitly, that the goal of learning is to acquire a complete and veridical representation of the world, but this view assumes away the possibility that pragmatic goals can play a central role in learning. We propose instead that people are relatively frugal learners, acquiring goal-relevant information while ignoring goal-irrelevant features of the environment. Experiment 1 provides evidence that learning is goal-dependent, and that people are relatively (but not absolutely) frugal when given a specific, practical goal. Experiment 2 investigates possible mechanisms underlying this effect, and finds evidence that people exhibit goal-driven attention allocation, but not goaldriven reasoning. We conclude by examining how frugality can be integrated into Bayesian models of learning.
Program of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 2014, 1766-1771.