Beyond Semantic Accuracy: Preschoolers Evaluate a Speaker's Reasons

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Abstract

Children's sensitivity to the quality of epistemic reasons and their selective trust in the more reasonable of 2 informants was investigated in 2 experiments. Three-, 4-, and 5-year-old children (N = 90) were presented with speakers who stated different kinds of evidence for what they believed. Experiment 1 showed that children of all age groups appropriately judged looking, reliable testimony, and inference as better reasons for belief than pretense, guessing, and desiring. Experiment 2 showed that 3- and 4-year-old children preferred to seek and accept new information from a speaker who was previously judged to use the "best" way of thinking. The findings demonstrate that children distinguish certain good from bad reasons and prefer to learn from those who showcased good reasoning in the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1063
Number of pages13
JournalChild development
Volume83
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2012

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