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Do children excuse past inaccuracy when learning episodic information as opposed to semantic information?

Mount, Rosie (2012) Do children excuse past inaccuracy when learning episodic information as opposed to semantic information? Oxford Brookes University.

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Abstract

Research has shown that children are not passive recipients of information, and do not readily accept information from any given source, but rather guide their trust investments with knowledge about an informant’s perceived reliability. This study investigated whether children would excuse the errors of informants when they were due to temporary circumstances and whether, in children doing so, there was a difference between semantic and episodic learning conditions. This follows on from a hypothesized risk-associated phenomenon, whereby children may be more reluctant to risk learning inaccurate information about generalizable world knowledge but, contrastingly, are more willing to take this risk when learning situational, short-term knowledge. The present study investigated this by examining the evidence for mentalistic reasoning in a semantic condition compared to an episodic condition. Children (N = 118) between age 4-5 and 6-7 observed a video whereby two speakers (one blindfolded, and one well-informed) gave consistently conflicting and incorrect labels for objects, or locations of a hidden teddy-bear. Children across both age groups showed no preference for the previously blindfolded inaccurate informant over the well-informed inaccurate informant in both the episodic and semantic condition. Explanations for this are discussed.

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