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. You will play the role of the guesser. It should take 1 or 2 minutes. Please pay attention and think carefully before responding! Thank you!


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

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

In this game, you will play the role of the 'guesser.' On each round, you will either be trying to find the poodle or the dalmatian. Although there is a cat behind one of the gates, you will never be asked to find it.

If you had to guess which gate the dalmatian or 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 poodle is behind gate 3", but they are not allowed to tell you "the dogs are behind gates 1 and 3". This helper knows that you are not interested in the cat, but does not know whether you are interested in the dalmatian or poodle.

The catch is that you must choose a question from a limited set given to you during the game. Think about which question would be better, even if it isn't perfect. 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!

Find the dalmatian!
Find the poodle!

From the above list of possible goals, your goal is to...


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