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Scientific article
English

Children weigh the number of informants and perceptual uncertainty when identifying objects

Published inJournal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 136, p. 70-81
Publication date2015
Abstract

The aim of this study was to evaluate how 3- to 5-year-old children (N = 150) identify an object when they are confronted with conflicting evidence, notably when the available perceptual evidence is contradicted by the testimony of either a lone informant or a three-informant consensus. Results showed that (a) 5-year-olds were more likely than 3- or 4-year-olds to rely on the perceptual evidence, ignoring claims made by the informants; (b) the three-informant consensus had more impact than a single informant for all age groups; and (c) children were more likely to make a perception-based response if the stimulus was perceptually unambiguous rather than equivocal with respect to its identity. Moreover, when children's task was to identify equivocal stimuli, they endorsed the three-informant consensus more than the lone informant. In contrast, when they needed to identify unambiguous stimuli, the number of informants did not influence children's responses. Taken together, the results show that the tendency to resist testimony on the basis of perceptual evidence increases with age. Moreover, preschoolers monitor both the characteristics of their informants and the relative ambiguity of the perceptual stimuli when they need to weigh verbal testimony against perceptual evidence.

Keywords
  • Testimony selection
  • Trust
  • Uncertainty monitoring
  • Biased perception
  • Consensus
  • Preschoolers
Research group
Citation (ISO format)
BERNARD, Stéphane et al. Children weigh the number of informants and perceptual uncertainty when identifying objects. In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 2015, vol. 136, p. 70–81. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.03.009
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ISSN of the journal0022-0965
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