Keeping commitments to others can be difficult, and we know that people sometimes fail to keep them. How does a speaker’s ability to keep commitments affect children’s practical decisions to trust and their epistemic decisions to learn? An amassing body of research documents children’s trust in testimonial learning decisions, which can be moved in the face of epistemic and moral evidence about an agent. However, other bases for trust go largely unexplored in this literature, such as interpersonal reasons to trust. Here, we investigated how direct bids for interpersonal trust in the form of making commitments, or obligations to the listener, influence a range of decisions toward that agent. We found that 3- and 4-year-olds’ (N = 75) practical decisions to wait and to share were moved as a function of a person’s commitment-keeping ability, but epistemic decisions to learn were not. Keeping one’s commitments may provide children with interpersonal reasons to trust, reasons that may function in ways distinct from the considerations that bear on accepting a claim.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by a Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship to AP and by the Office of Vice Provost for Research (Grant No. 22890) and the John Templeton Foundation (Grant No. 60502) to MAK. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We thank Natalie Low, Amy Yi, and Victoria Fritz for their lab assistance as well as the parents and children who participated in this research. This research was supported by a Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship to AP, and by the John Templeton Foundation (Grant No. 60502) and the Office of Vice Provost for Research (Grant No. 22890) to MAK.
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