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Children’s Trust in Previously Inaccurate Informants Who Were Well or Poorly Informed: When Past Errors Can Be Excused


  • The research was supported by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council, United Kingdom (RES-000-22-1847).

concerning this article should be addressed to Elizabeth J. Robinson, Department of Psychology, Warwick University, Coventry, CV4 7AL, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to


Past research demonstrates that children learn from a previously accurate speaker rather than from a previously inaccurate one. This study shows that children do not necessarily treat a previously inaccurate speaker as unreliable. Rather, they appropriately excuse past inaccuracy arising from the speaker’s limited information access. Children (N= 67) aged 3, 4, and 5 years aimed to identify a hidden toy in collaboration with a puppet as informant. When the puppet had previously been inaccurate despite having full information, children tended to ignore what they were told and guess for themselves: They treated the puppet as unreliable in the longer term. However, children more frequently believed a currently well-informed puppet whose past inaccuracies arose legitimately from inadequate information access.