Changing your mind about things unseen: Toddlers' sensitivity to prior reliability

Patricia A. Ganea, Melissa Koenig, Katherine Gordon Millett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The goal of this research was to investigate the extent to which young children use the past reliability of another person's statements to make inferences about the accuracy of that person's claims about a hidden toy. When children interacted with a previously reliable speaker, both 30- and 36-month-olds searched in the new location of the toy, in line with the speaker's statement. When children interacted with an unreliable speaker, the 36-month-olds were less likely to rely on her false statement and instead searched either in the original location of the toy or in a neutral location. The 30-month-olds, however, searched in the location indicated by the speaker even when the speaker was unreliable. These results show that by 36 months of age, children begin to use reliability in processing a speaker's episodic claims and can flexibly update their representations of absent objects depending on the reliability of the speaker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-453
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Episodic information
  • Epistemic trust
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Mental representation
  • Updating


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