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Broken promises and selective trust in 5- to 8-year-old children

Grant number: 23/05847-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2024
Effective date (End): December 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Human Development Psychology
Principal Investigator:Débora de Hollanda Souza
Grantee:Laura Cunha Melnicky
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


Recent studies investigated the development of selective trust or the ability to discriminate good and bad informants in new learning situations. One question, however, remains little explored: can these judgements be also influenced by a history of broken promises and by the reasons that led to the promises being broken? The main goal of the present study is to continue the work on this recent line of research about the effects of this kind of inconsistency in young children's selective trust judgment. A second goal is to test a possible correlation between selective trust and theory of mind. Sixty 5- to 8-year-old children will participate in the study. Children will be assessed by a selective trust task and a theory of mind task. Participants will be randomly distributed into three conditions that differ in relation to the situation presented in the selective trust task. In the first condition (C1), one of the characters always promises something to a friend but breaks the promise without a plausible motive; a second character likewise does not keep his promises, but he has plausible reasons for doing so. In the second condition (C2), one character makes promises and fulfills them; and another character does not keep his promises but has plausible reasons for breaking them. In a third condition (C3), a character who fulfills promises is contrasted with a character who breaks his promises without a plausible explanation. During a second phase, children are asked to choose one of the characters as a source of information in new learning situations. The expected results are a) a positive correlation between selective trust and theory of mind; b) on C1, children should show a clear preference for the informant who has plausible reasons for breaking his promises; c) on C2, the pattern of preference should oscillate between the informant who keeps his promises and the one that justifiably breaks his promises; d) on C3, children should give preference to the one who keeps his promises.

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