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19 August 2011

Four-year-olds are very untrusting

A new study found that when children reach around four years they start noticing whether someone is actually knowledgeable or if they're just getting the answers from someone else.

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 finds that when children reach around four years, they start noticing whether someone is actually knowledgeable, or if they're just getting the answers from someone else.

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 labelled 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.

 
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