Academic journal article Science and Children

Trying to Fool a Kindergartner? Not So Fast

Academic journal article Science and Children

Trying to Fool a Kindergartner? Not So Fast

Article excerpt

From the words for colors to how to tie a shoelace, kids have lots to learn--and for the most part, they depend on others to teach it to them. But whether deliberately or inadvertently, people sometimes misinform. So, at what age can kids tell trustworthy teachers from confidence tricksters?

A recent study shows that by the age of five, children become wary of information provided by people who make overly confident claims.

For the study, Patricia Brosseau-Liard recruited 96 four- and five-year-olds. She and her coauthors had the youngsters weigh two important cues to a person's credibility--prior accuracy and confidence--when deciding what to believe.

The researchers showed their subjects short videos of two adults talking about familiar animals. The speakers would either make true statements about the animal in a hesitant voice ("Hmm, I guess whales live in the water?") or make false statements about the animal in a confident voice ("Oh, I know! Whales live in the ground!").

The kids were then shown videos of the same two adults speaking about strange animals. The previously confident speaker would state facts with confidence, and the previously hesitant speaker remained hesitant while stating different facts. …

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