PSYC Semineri: “Sociocultural Influences on Children’s Information-seeking with Humans and Voice Assistants”, Burcu Ünlütabak, 12:30 12 Şubat 2024 (EN)

You are cordially invited to the seminar organized by the Department of Psychology.

Speaker: Asst. Prof. Burcu Ünlütabak (Yeditepe University- Department of Psychology)
Title: Sociocultural Influences on Children’s Information-seeking with Humans and Voice Assistants

Date: Monday, 12 February 2024
Time: 12:30
Place: A 130 (FEASS Building)

For young children, question-asking is a powerful tool for learning about the accumulated physical, biological, and social knowledge valued in their community. In today’s digital world, children can ask questions to more knowledgeable adults around them and also to digital informants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. Growing research in the fields of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Child-Computer Interaction (CCI) explores how children view and interact with robots and conversational agents like voice assistants. Findings so far show that although voice assistants are partially social agents, children attribute human-like characteristics to them and interact with them in a socially contingent way by asking questions, giving instructions, and even telling jokes. While research in Western societies highlights the importance of children’s questions as an essential tool for learning from others, little is known about how sociocultural contexts shape children’s question-asking behavior (when and how to ask a question, whom to ask and what to ask about), particularly when it comes to their interactions with voice assistants. Moreover, while such voice assistants and bots are becoming increasingly widespread worldwide, not all societies use these tools widely or have much experience with them. Thus, it is important to examine children’s question-asking behaviors in interactions with adults and voice assistants in different sociocultural contexts because this way, similarities and differences in children’s questions can be identified, and technological tools and educational programs can be developed to support children’s learning from an early age. In my talk, I will present findings from my research examining children’s question-asking behaviors in Turkey. I will also present a newly-funded research project examining 4–8-year-old children’s question-asking behavior with humans and voice assistants using cognitive developmental and child-computer interaction-based methods and qualitative and quantitative data analyses. I will also discuss the implications of my work for promoting children’s learning and conceptual development.

Short Biography
Dr. Burcu Ünlütabak is an Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology at Yeditepe University (Turkey). She received her BA in English Language and Literature and MA in Developmental Psychology from Boğaziçi University. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Lehigh University. She worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at The Science of Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins University. She specializes in children’s language and communicative development, narrative skills, and conceptual development. Specifically, she explores (1) how young children learn from more knowledgeable others around them (i.e., parents and teachers) via social and conversational exchanges and (2) the role of sociocultural factors in children’s social and cognitive development. Additionally, she is interested in child-computer interaction and how children acquire information from technological resources (e.g., the internet and AI-based dialogue systems). She deeply cares about developing technological tools to support children’s learning and development during preschool years and beyond.