The Ontogenesis of Trust

Mind and Language 19 (4):360-379 (2004)
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Abstract

Psychologists have emphasized children's acquisition of information through firsthand observation. However, many beliefs are acquired from others' testimony. In two experiments, most 4yearolds displayed sceptical trust in testimony. Having heard informants' accurate or inaccurate testimony, they anticipated that informants would continue to display such differential accuracy and they trusted the hitherto reliable informant. Yet they ignored the testimony of the reliable informant if it conflicted with what they themselves had seen. By contrast, threeyearolds were less selective in trusting a reliable informant. Thus, young children check testimony against their own experience and increasingly recognise that some informants are more trustworthy than others.

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