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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2018, Vol. 50 Issue (12) : 1390-1399     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.01390
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Preschoolers' selective trust and belief revision in conflicting situation
LI Tingyu1,2,LIU Li1,2,LI Yilin1,2,ZHU Liqi1()
1 CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Beijing 100101, China
2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
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One of the most imperative issues in developmental research on social cognition is whether young children selectively trust informants' testimonies and revise their beliefs based on those testimonies. Previous research has shown that both the nature of the information and the traits of informants affect young children's selective trust and belief revision. However, the role that contradictory information may play in young children's selective trust and belief revision has yet to be examined. The present study examined Chinese preschoolers' selective trust and belief revision in situations in which their beliefs were contradicted by information provided by a familiar informant (the mother).

The present study adopted the conflicting sources paradigm. Testimonies about hybrid pictures with different perceptual cues (the 50%-50% hybrids task vs the 75%-25% hybrids task) were presented to 74 4- to 6-year-old preschoolers, to investigate young children's selective trust and belief revision. Participants heard two informants (the mother and the stranger) name the hybrid differently. In all tasks, the stranger’s naming was more consistent with the perceptual cues. Children were asked about their own naming (What animal is this?), whom they would like to ask (mother or stranger?), whom to believe and the endorsement question (What animal do you think this is?).

The results showed that children's selective trust and belief revision are influenced by the degree of conflict between mother's testimonies and perceptual evidence. In the low conflicting situation (50%-50% hybrids task), children are more inclined to ask for and explicitly trust the mother's testimony than in the high conflicting situation (75%-25% hybrids task). Furthermore, in the low conflicting situation, older children are more likely to revise their beliefs than younger children; whereas in the high conflicting situation, older children are more hesitant to revise their beliefs than younger children. The findings indicate that older children are more flexible in selective trust and belief revision. They are better able to factor the available perceptual cues into their consideration of the adult's testimony.

In summary, 4- to 6-year-old preschoolers' selective trust and belief revision are influenced by the degree of conflict between others' testimonies and perceptual evidence. In high conflicting situations, they typically refuse to ask for and endorse the testimonies provided by the familiar informant, or to revise their beliefs. The results of the present study demonstrate that young children are able to distinguish between different degrees of conflict. When the mother's testimony conflicted dramatically with the young children's existing beliefs, older Chinese preschoolers in our study tended to distrust the mother and refused to revise their beliefs.

Keywords 4- to 6-year-old preschoolers      selective trust      belief revision      informant      familiarity     
:  B844  
Issue Date: 30 October 2018
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LI Tingyu, LIU Li, LI Yilin, ZHU Liqi. Preschoolers' selective trust and belief revision in conflicting situation[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2018, 50(12): 1390-1399.
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