Investigating Sensitivity to Shared Information and Personal Experience in Children’s Use of Majority Information

Abstract

When learning from others, rather than simply following the majority’s opinion, we need to accurately assess the quality of the information being provided and integrate it with our own personal experience. This is especially true if the majority has a lower quality of information when members shared evidence rather than collecting it independently. Previous work demonstrated that adults are sensitive to information quality, consistent to the predictions of a Bayesian rational model (Whalen, Griffiths, & Buchsbaum, in press). In two behavioural experiments, we investigated how preschoolers combined testimony from a majority that conflicted with a minority or with personal evidence. Unlike adults, children over-relied on the majority when given only testimony. However, when given their own conflicting evidence, children relied significantly less on the majority and over-relied on their own evidence. These findings help explain why children may follow the majority at times, but in others trust their own judgements.


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