‘I bet you know more and are nicer too!’: what children infer from others’ accuracy


Patricia E. Brosseau-Liard, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z4; e-mail: patricia@psych.ubc.ca


Research has shown that preschoolers monitor others’ prior accuracy and prefer to learn from individuals who have the best track record. We investigated the scope of preschoolers’ attributions based on an individual’s prior accuracy. Experiment 1 revealed that 5-year-olds (but not 4-year-olds) used an individual’s prior accuracy at labelling to predict her knowledge of words and broader facts; they also showed a ‘halo effect’ predicting she would be more prosocial. Experiment 2 confirmed that, overall, 4-year-olds did not make explicit generalizations of knowledge. These findings suggest that an individual’s prior accuracy influences older preschoolers’ expectations of that individual’s broader knowledge as well as their impressions of how she will behave in social interactions.