Children’s Attributions of Knowledge and Trustworthiness to Other Children with Disabilities
Young children are influenced by both relevant and irrelevant traits when they infer people’s knowledge and decide whether those people are to be trusted. The current study examines age-related differences in children’s (3- to 6-year-olds’) concepts of the knowledge and trustworthiness of other children with perceptual or physical disabilities. A Character Perceptual Access (2: saw inside a box; didn’t see) x Character Ability Type (3: typical development; perceptual disability; physical disability) x Participant Age (2: 3-4 year-olds; 5-6 year-olds) mixed effects design was used to examine this question with 62 participants. Children were presented with scenarios that involved one character who was atypically developing looking in a box and another character who was typically developing simply holding that same box (without looking inside). For each pair of characters, children were asked questions about who knew what was inside the box, both characters made claims about what object was inside the box, and children were asked to endorse one of the character’s claims. The results indicate that both younger children (3-4 years) and older children (5-6 years) correctly attributed knowledge of the boxes’ contents to the (atypically-developing) characters who looked inside the boxes. However, younger children (3-4 years) were less likely than older children (5-6 years) to endorse claims made about the contents of the box from characters who were atypically-developing and less frequently endorsed claims made by characters who were physically disabled. Theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed.