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Early tracking of informant accuracy and inaccuracy

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Paul L. Harris, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA (e-mail: paul_harris@gse.harvard.edu).

Abstract

Three- and four-year-old children (N=131) were tested for their sensitivity to the accuracy and inaccuracy of informants. Children were presented with one of three conditions. In the Accurate-Inaccurate condition, one informant named objects accurately whereas the other named them inaccurately. In the Accurate-Neutral condition, one informant named objects accurately whereas the other merely drew attention to them. Finally in the Inaccurate-Neutral condition, one informant named objects inaccurately whereas the other merely drew attention to them. In subsequent test trials, 4-year-olds preferred to seek and accept information in a selective fashion across all three conditions, suggesting that they monitor informants for both accuracy and inaccuracy. By contrast, 3-year-olds were selective in the Accurate-Inaccurate and Inaccurate-Neutral conditions but not in the Accurate-Neutral condition, suggesting that they monitor informants only for inaccuracy and take accuracy for granted.

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