Four-year-olds know that being right is not enough

August 18, 2011

As they grow, children learn a lot about the world from what other people tell them. Along the way, they have to figure out who is a reliable source of information. A new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that when children reach around 4 years, they start noticing whether someone is actually knowledgeable or if they're just getting the answers from someone else.

Earlier studies have found that children as young as age three pay attention to whether someone is an accurate information source. If someone gives correct information, they'll go back to that person for more answers. But Shiri Einav of Oxford Brookes University in the UK thought there was more to the story. "If you give a correct response it doesn't necessarily mean you're knowledgeable" she says. "You could be accurate because you asked someone else for help or you could be accurate by a complete fluke." Einav and her coauthor, Elizabeth Robinson of Warwick University, wanted to know whether children assessing the of others take into account the reasons for others' accuracy.

For their study, Einav and Robinson used puppets and a teddy bear to test children. A child would hold up a picture of an elephant, cow, or rabbit for each puppet to identify. Both puppets labeled all animals correctly but one puppet always knew the answer without any help, whereas the other puppet always relied on help from Ted. Then, Ted was removed so he couldn't help the puppets anymore and the child was given a picture of an unfamiliar animal—a mongoose—and asked which puppet could tell them what it was.

Three-year-olds were equally likely to choose the puppet who'd known the answers on its own and the puppet that got help from Ted. But four- and five-year-olds were more discriminating: They invested more trust in the puppet whose accuracy reflected independent knowledge rather than being dependent on an external source. "We think it's important that from the age of around four, children are being sophisticated in a way that people hadn't really shown before," Einav says. "They're able to distinguish someone who's truly knowledgeable from someone who's given them a right answer but doesn't necessarily deserve long-term trust." This useful skill allows to seek out people who are likely to be particularly beneficial for their learning.

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1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
lol. Cute. The Assoc. f. Psychological Science has humor.
O.k. I'm game. Let me play too:

You got this from earlier studies? Careful now.
Cognitive bias.

The first God for all children are parents. The parents, when the child finally understands their language, talked of other Gods.

In the beginning,
there was l..., le..., len...,leni..., lenin.

(I stutter a lot)

Trust is good, control is better.

Total control relies on nothing. That accuracy is perfect, regardless of reasoning.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2011
This may be related to 'Theory of Mind' which also blossoms at about this age :)
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
Allow silliness for a moment. Everyone knows of "Dear John", with that theory in mind:

Dear ToM,
We, my twin and I have decided to part from you. We had long discussions about you in the womb before we were born. We decided for the sake of science - your bread and butter - that we play dumb for you - you needed something to do and you, ToM, were the perfect person to keep yourself busy. So we offered no 'evidence' for you, ToM, at birth.

ToM, you are a dreamer, a theorizer. You simply went ahead and extrapolate our internal mental states and pasted a time table to this to boot. That is inconsiderate, rude and unscientific. Do you remember, ToM? We played peek-a-boo together, A FEW WEEKS AFTER BIRTH. You went ahead anyway, called us deficit(!!!) until we pointed fingers THREE YEARS LATER! We were just an object to you, ToM, until the finger pointing began. Wholly inadequate for you, ToM.
We are tired, ToM, of you taking us to task(s). We now ask you to leave.
Take care
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
If ToM and the related fMRI, PET mappings were a CITY map, I guarantee 100% you will never find the house, much less the people in it.

This is like pushing salience in the womb. Forget it. You have all been there. And forgotten that salience was not a part of our learning world there. And we learned more there, than at any other time of our lives.

A total rethink of psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience is in order.
Just as bad as the astrophysical society with black holes and gravitational waves!!!
I going to be sick now, excuse me.
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
O.k. Back now.
RKS are you in love?!?!? You don't need ToM. Take our word for it. ToM is bad for you. Alright. Just don't say we did not warn you.

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