Expertise in unexpected places: selective social learning from counter-normative experts

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Chelsea Hughes Maicus (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Janet Boseovski

Abstract: Previous research demonstrates that children prefer to use information given by people of their own gender when learning about their environment. However, young children are also very sensitive to the specialized knowledge, or expertise, of others. The present work explored whether children are willing to learn from an expert informant who displays non - traditional gender role interests. Four- to 8-year-olds were presented with conflicting opinions about a piece of domain specific information from a counter-stereotypical expert (e.g., a boy with expertise in ballet), as well as a layperson of the opposite gender (e.g., a girl with little knowledge about ballet). Participants were asked to choose who they believed was correct, who they would prefer to learn from in the future, and how much they liked each character. Overall, participants selected the counter-stereotypical expert as correct. However, 4- to 5-year-olds reported a preference to learn from same-gender participants in the future irrespective of their expertise, whereas 6- to 8-year-olds reported wanting to learn from the counter-stereotypical expert in the future. Gender differences also emerged, with boys of all ages showing greater acceptance of the opinion of a male counter-stereotypical expert as compared to a female counter-stereotypical expert. These results demonstrate that while expertise is a powerful learning cue, there are circumstances in which expert testimony may be disregarded in favor of potent social categorical biases.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Expert, Gender norm transgression, Gender stereotypes, Informant testimony, Selective learning
Trust in children
Social perception in children
Stereotypes (Social psychology)
Sex differences (Psychology) in children
Child development
Sex role in children $x Psychological aspects

Email this document to