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DO ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS?: SELECTIVE TRUST IN YOUNG CHILDREN

Grant number: 22/12940-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2023
Effective date (End): January 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Human Development Psychology
Principal Investigator:Débora de Hollanda Souza
Grantee:Luana Barretto Borges
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:14/50909-8 - INCT 2014: Behavior, Cognition and Teaching (INCT-ECCE): relational learning and symbolic functioning, AP.TEM

Abstract

Unlike the popular belief that children believe in everything they hear, recent evidence suggests that, from early on, children are critical consumers of information, that is, they are capable of discriminating between good and bad informants in new learning situations. This ability is conventionally called "selective trust" or "epistemic trust" in Developmental Psychology. Several studies have demonstrated that children indeed take into account the characteristics and background of the informant to decide whom to trust when they need to learn something new. However, there is still little research investigating possible effects of the perception of inconsistency between informant's behavior and speech. In different contexts, an adult may behave differently from what he or she recommends ("Do as I say, not as I do"). Thus, the goal of the present study is to test, by means of a selective trust task, if children (7- to 10-year-olds) assess in different manners inconsistencies between speech and behavior when choosing whom to trust in new learning situations. More specifically, participants will be exposed to two types of informants who are always inconsistent: one gives good advice, but behaves badly (e.g., tells a friend he needs to share his chocolate with friends, but on the next day, he refuses to give a piece of his chocolate to one of them); whereas the other informant gives bad advice, but behaves well (e.g., tells his friend he does not need to share his chocolate, but on the next day, gives his friend some). During a test phase (4 trials), these two potential informants offer distinct suggestions on how to win novel games (e.g., one of the informants says you can not press the yellow button whereas the other says you should not press the red button). The child is then asked to choose between one of the two suggestions on each test trial/game. Therefore, the goal is to explore whether children show a preference for gestures (i.e., how the informant behaves during the familiarization phase) or for his/her words (i.e., advice). A second goal is to investigate whether there are differences between two age groups in task performance: between 7- to 8-year-olds and 9- to 10-year-olds. We hope the present study can contribute to advancing this promising line of investigation on the development of children's epistemic trust.

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