Children and adults evaluate what others know by considering how they complete goals in language and action
Vazquez, Maria Dolores
Children consider others’ prior behavior to evaluate whether they are likely to provide accurate information in the future. Prior research has demonstrated that the ability to complete a goal in action or language is viewed as an indication that one should be trusted to provide additional information (Koenig, Clement, & Harris, 2004; Koenig, & Harris, 2005; Pasquini ,Corriveau, Koenig, & Harris, 2007; Rakoczy, Warneken, & Tomasello, 2009). The present studies describe two additional indicators of trustworthiness that children and adults use to assess source reliability. Children and adults identified which of two actors completed a goal by the use of action (Study 1) or language (Study 2) most efficiently and then subsequently trusted the efficient actor to provide accurate information about new words. In both studies individuals who were considered efficient at completing goals were trusted to provide label but not tool information. This suggests that learning in some domains may rely more heavily on testimony, while observations may be more important in other domains. In Study 1, preschoolers considered the relative expediency with which two actresses reached a goal to determine who would be more likely to provide accurate label information. In Study 2, monolingual adults, and Spanish-English bilingual 6-year-olds and adults, considered whether two storybook characters adhered to pragmatic norms in different contexts. Adults who were able to identify the characters who adhered to pragmatic norms trusted label information provided by the norm adhering characters. Bilingual children were able to identify which character adhered to the pragmatic norms but they did not selectively trust the norm adhering individuals as sources of label information.