Reliability versus affiliation : selective trust in accented speakers

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2013-05

Authors

Blanco, Cynthia Patricia

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Abstract

Recent work has shown that preschoolers track informants’ past reliability concerning familiar information and labels, and they use this information to judge the correctness of novel information and labels they provide. But linguistic factors also sway children’s choices for social interaction, for which native-accented speakers are preferred. The present study uses the selective trust paradigm to consider how accentedness interacts with speaker reliability with native- and foreign-accented informants. The results show that speaker reliability and accentedness affect four-year-olds’ choices, but the impact of these factors differed by response type. Preschoolers preferred to ask the native-accented speaker for information, regardless of his reliability. However, in choosing which label to learn, preschoolers selected the reliable speaker’s label, regardless of accent, and correctly identified the unreliable speaker. This study provides evidence suggesting that young children separate their social biases from their objective assessment of novel information.

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