The roles of group membership and social exclusion in children's testimonial learning

Pearl Han Li, Melissa A. Koenig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Here, we used high- and low-stakes testimonial learning tasks to better understand two important types of social influence on children's learning decisions: group membership and social ostracism. Children (4- and 5-year-olds; N = 100) were either included or excluded by in-group or outgroup members in an online ball tossing game. Then, children were asked to selectively learn new information from either an in-group or out-group member. They also received counterintuitive information from an in-group or out-group member that was in conflict with their own intuitions. When learning new information, children who were excluded were more likely to selectively trust information from their in-group member. In contrast, when accepting counterintuitive information, children relied only on group membership regardless of their exclusion status. Together, these findings demonstrate ways in which different forms of testimonial learning are guided not only by epistemic motivations but also by social motivations of affiliation and maintaining relationships with others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105342
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the parents and children for their participation. We also thank Julia Wenting Cai, Lauren Chlan, Joanne Jung, Maeve Kinderman, Noa Singer, Sara Wilkerson and Daiqing Zhao for their help with data collection and coding. This project was supported by a Institute of Child Development Small Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Counterintuitive
  • Early childhood
  • Ostracism
  • Selective trust
  • Social groups
  • Social motivations
  • Testimony

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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