Stanford CoCoLab: Questions and Answers

The actions of asking and answering questions play an important role in our everyday social interactions. It's not always clear why someone is asking a question, but we have strong intuitions about what counts as a 'good question' or 'good answer'.

In this HIT, you will play a guessing game that tests these intuitions. There are two parts. In one part, you will play the role of the guesser, then you will play the role of the helper. It should take 5 or 6 minutes. Please pay attention and think carefully before responding! Thank you!


There are four items in this game: a poodle, a dalmatian, a whale, and a siamese cat.

These four items are hidden behind four gates, but you don't know the order.

In this part of the game, you will play the role of the 'guesser.' In each round, you will be asked to find one of the four items. For example, you may be told to "Find the poodle!"

If you had to guess which gate the poodle is behind without any further information, you wouldn't stand much of a chance. Luckily, you are playing with another player, the 'helper', who knows exactly what is behind each gate. You have the opportunity to ask them a single question before guessing. They can show you the location of exactly one object. For example, they may tell you that "the dalmatian is behind gate 1" or "the siamese cat is behind gate 4", but they are not allowed to tell you "the dogs are behind gates 1 and 3".

The catch is that you won't always be allowed to ask explicitly about the object you're trying to find: you must choose a question from a limited set. For example, you might be trying to find the poodle, but will not be allowed to ask "where is the poodle?" The helper knows that you have this constraint and will try to be as understanding as possible.

In this part of the experiment, you are only required to decide what question you would ask for each goal. You will not actually receive the helper's answer or select a gate. Your progress through the experiment is indicated in the top-right corner of the screen. Thank you for your participation!


Please enter a response before continuing.

There are four items hidden behind four gates:

In this part of the game, you will play the role of the 'helper.' The other player is trying to find one of these four items, but only you know where they are! Before selecting a location, the guesser is allowed to ask you one question. In each round of the following game, you will be asked to give a helpful answer to different possible questions.

All of your answers will take the same form: you will tell them the location of a single item. For example, if the other player asks, "dalmatian?" you may respond "the dalmatian is behind gate 1" or "the siamese cat is behind gate 4", but not "the dogs are behind gates 1 and 3".

This seems easy, but the catch is that the other player is not always allowed to ask explicitly about the object they're trying to find: they must choose a question from a limited set. For example, they might be trying to find the poodle, but cannot ask "poodle?" Instead, they may only ask one of the following: "dalmatian?", dog?", "pet?", or "animal?"

It is your job to try to be as helpful and understanding as possible, keeping this constraint in mind. To succeed, you must consider why the other player chose the question they did, and what object they might be trying to find.

Thank you for your participation!

Dalmatian?
Dog?
Pet?
Animal?


Given that objects are hidden in the following locations...

Please select which gate you would show the player:

Please enter a response before continuing.
Additional information

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