Children’s Trust in Technological and Human Informants

Abstract

Children understand early in development that different people know different things, and they are adept at using this information to select appropriate sources of information (Lutz & Keil, 2002). However, in the current digital age, information may be gathered from both humans and technological sources that select and present information as humans do. Using methods designed to study epistemic trust in human informants (e.g., Koenig, Clement, & Harris, 2004), the current study investigates children’s and adults’ selective trust in a technological and human informant. Children (ages 4 and 5) and adults were presented with queries designed to probe their willingness to seek out and accept information from human versus technological informants. The results demonstrate that 4-year-olds prefer to seek information from a human informant, but by age 5, children show an increasing preference for the technological informant. The relationship between children’s trust and their experience with technology is also discussed.


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