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Preschoolers mistrust ignorant and inaccurate speakers

By Melissa A. Koenig and Paul L. Harris


Being able to evaluate the accuracy of an informant is essential to communication. Three experiments explored\ud preschoolers’ (N5119) understanding that, in cases of conflict, information from reliable informants is preferable\ud to information from unreliable informants. In Experiment 1, children were presented with previously\ud accurate and inaccurate informants who presented conflicting names for novel objects. 4-year-olds but not 3-\ud year-olds predicted whether an informant would be accurate in the future, sought, and endorsed information\ud from the accurate over the inaccurate informant. In Experiment 2, both age groups displayed trust in knowledgeable\ud over ignorant speakers. In Experiment 3, children extended selective trust when learning both verbal\ud and nonverbal information. These experiments demonstrate that preschoolers have a key strategy for assessing\ud the reliability of information

Topics: C800 Psychology, C820 Developmental Psychology
Publisher: Blackwell
Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2005.00849.x
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