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

Authors


  • 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 e.j.robinson@warwick.ac.uk.

Abstract

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.

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