I find it that children mostly ask questions of types "when", "why", "what", but rarely question the authority of figure of "how they know?".

Why is this? Would it be that, there is an innate predisposition to trust the conclusions of authority figures? Further, at what age is it tendencies about asking epistemological questions expected to develop?

  • $\begingroup$ "Why" can be a very vague question. What level of analysis are you looking for as "why"? Additionally, we require questions to be framed in psychology or neuroscience, so it's required to back up your post with something more than "I find". $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    May 3, 2023 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any tips in framing it better? It's just an intuitive observation I made as a lay eprson $\endgroup$ May 3, 2023 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ It usually helps to read some background on the topic - keywords might be some combination of epistemology, questions, understanding, children. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    May 3, 2023 at 2:48
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    $\begingroup$ how do you know that children often not ask epistemological questions? $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    May 3, 2023 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Ooker life experience $\endgroup$ May 23, 2023 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


Young children are usually referred to the sensorimotor- and preoperational stages by Piaget's theory of cognitive development. This means that children don't endow the capability of abstract reasoning and need a reference frame to anchor their thoughts. The formal operational stage starts around 11 years of age which allows abstract thought and the capability of relinquishing frames for thought. You should see Piaget's experiments within this frame of reference. This means more concrete questions that aren't very epistemological.

You should also look into other theories of cognitive development. Let's say Noam Chomsky's theory of LAD which says that children are endowed with a language acquisition machine. Is the machine flawed and not efficient enough? What brain areas could be responsible of LAD? (Broca's or/and Wernicke's Area or the mirror cells?)


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