Abstract：Statistical information, experimental results, and testimonies are material of children's scientific thinking. But until recently, the psychological mechanism of the interaction of the three kinds of information in children's scientific thinking has not been elucidated (Sobel & Kushnir, 2013). In this study, research paradigm from Bridgers et al(2016) is used in two experiments to explore the interaction of independent exploration and informant testimony on physical causal reasoning of 5-year-old children, children's perception of informant self-confidence and awareness also been analyzed.
Experiment 1 adopt a 2x2 completely randomized experiment design, the independent variable is the informant’s self-confidence (two levels: self-confidence, not-confidence) and the number of children independent exploration (two levels: no exploration, nine explorations), the dependent variable is the frequency of children’s choice of candidate cause. Informant testimony(such as A is more likely to cause a effect than B ) given by a adult female in a laptop, and children explore with a music box to get evidence that contradict with testimony(B is more likely to cause a effect than A). 84 preschool children(50 boys and 34 girls, mean age 63.7 months) take part in experiment 1. The results show that there are more children choice cause contradict with testimony in the nine explorations level than in no exploration level , but this difference is not statistically significant; children do not sensitive to the informant self confidence and awareness.
Experiment 1 found that the contradictory evidence did not significantly improve child’s choice of cause that contradict with testimony, which may be due to small example of contradictory evidence. Experiment 2 increase the absolute number of contradictory evidence to explore the interaction of independent exploration and informant testimony, a single factor completely random experimental design was adopted, the independent variable is informant’s confidence (two levels: self-confidence, not-confidence), the experimental procedure is the same as the nine explorations level in Experiment 1, but the number of independent exploration is increased to eighteen times. 54 preschool children(28 boys and 26 girls, mean age 63.9 months) take part in experiment 2. The results show that there are more children in the eighteen explorations level than in no exploration level(experiment 1) choice cause contradict with testimony, and the difference is statistically significant. Once again, children do not sensitive to the informant self confidence and awareness.
The results show that 5-year-old children can integrate the results of independent exploration and the testimony of informant to inference causal relationship, the number of children who choice cause contradict with testimony increase with the number of contradiction evidence. Children do not sensitive to the informant self confidence may be due to the default bias, the follow-up Research should focus on the interaction of independent exploration, observe others experiment and informant testimony on preschool children's scientific thinking, and focus on how to improve children's consciousness of assess adult awareness and credibility.