Long before they enter a classroom, people learn to identify commonplace objects like a “dog” and a “chair” just by encountering them in everyday life, with no intent to learn about what they are.
A new study is one of the first to provide experimental evidence that people learn from incidental exposure to things that they know nothing about and aren’t even trying to understand.
Exposure to new objects makes humans “ready to learn,” said Vladimir Sloutsky, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.
“We often observe new things out in the real world without a goal of learning about them,” Sloutsky said.
“But we found that simply being exposed to them makes an impression in our mind and leads us to be ready to learn about them later.”
Sloutsky conducted the research with Layla Unger, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Ohio State and lead author of the study. The study was published May 26, 2022 in the journal Psychological Science.
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