Preschoolers Think Strangers Will Share The Same Knowledge As Other Group Members, But Will Not Behave Like Them

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Megan Norris (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Robyn Kondrad

Abstract: Children learn much of what they know from others’ testimony. But, they are selective: children as young as 3 consider cues to credibility like past accuracy, benevolence, and group membership to decide whom to trust. Research on credulity has centered on how children’s judgments about an individual influences their trust for that same person later. The current study explores whether children generalize epistemic behavior (i.e., knowledgeability) and social behavior (i.e., benevolence) to members who are part of the same group but whom children have not “met”. Four- and 5-year-olds learned that people belonging to one group always either provide accurate information or are nice, and the other group always demonstrates the opposite behavior. Half the children heard the group being labeled and the other half did not. Next, children were introduced to two strangers; one wore a red shirt and the other a blue shirt. These strangers offered the same behaviors as their group earlier demonstrated. Children’s generalizations were conditional, only generalizing the epistemic trait when the stranger’s group was explicitly labeled; they never generalized the social trait to strangers. These data suggest that children use group membership to make inferences about strangers’ epistemic and social characteristics in different ways.

Additional Information

Norris, M. (2018). "Preschoolers Think Strangers Will Share The Same Knowledge As Other Group Members, But Will Not Behave Like Them." Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
selective trust, stereotypes, social categorization

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