Evidence for children’s use of social cues to determine credibility in early 2-year-olds
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Children’s confidence in their own knowledge and their understanding of other’s intentions may influence their willingness to learn novel information from others. Two studies investigated whether 24-month-old children take into account these different sources of information when learning novel labels. In Study 1, children interacted with a speaker who referred to familiar objects in either a knowledgeable (e.g., the speaker confidently stated, “I know what that is”) or an ignorant manner (e.g., the speaker doubtfully stated, “I don’t know what that is.”). The previously knowledgeable or ignorant speaker then provided a novel label for either a novel or a familiar object. Children were less willing to apply a novel label to a familiar object from a speaker who previously had expressed ignorance than one who previously had expressed confidence in his/her knowledge of object labels. In contrast, when objects were novel, children were equally willing to learn a novel label regardless of the level of knowledge portrayed by the speaker. In Study 2, children interacted with a speaker who provided either accurate or inaccurate labels for familiar objects in a manner that expressed uncertainty about the information being offered (e.g., “I think that’s a …”). Children’s willingness to accept second labels for familiar objects was examined. Children were equally likely to learn the novel label for a familiar object from the accurate and the inaccurate speaker. In contrast to past findings which present differences in willingness to learn from accurate and inaccurate speakers, children in this study may have taken into account the speaker’s lack of confidence when deciding whether to accept or reject the novel information being provided. Young children are not naïve observers accepting novel label information from any source. They attend to cues about the speaker’s level of knowledge by 24 months. They also are capable of comparing their knowledge with the information being presented by an adult speaker and deciding whether to rely on their own knowledge or accept the information being provided. Both reliability cues from the speaker and children’s prior knowledge influence their willingness to learn novel information.