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- PublicationAccès libreHow Preschoolers Use Cues of Dominance to Make Sense of Their Social EnvironmentA series of four experiments investigated preschoolers’ abilities to make sense of dominance relations. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that as early as 3 years old, preschoolers are able to infer dominance not only from physical supremacy but also from decision power, age, and resources. Experiments 3 and 4 showed that preschoolers have expectations regarding the ways in which a dominant and a subordinate individual are likely to differ. In particular, they expect that an individual who imposes his choice on another will exhibit higher competence in games and will have more resources.
- PublicationAccès libreEpistemic vigilanceHumans massively depend on communication with others, but this leaves them open to the risk of being accidentally or intentionally misinformed. To ensure that, despite this risk, communication remains advantageous, humans have, we claim, a suite of cognitive mechanisms for epistemic vigilance. Here we outline this claim and consider some of the ways in which epistemic vigilance works in mental and social life by surveying issues, research and theories in different domains of philosophy, linguistics, cognitive psychology and the social sciences.
- PublicationAccès libreThe power of well-connected arguments: Early sensitivity to the connective because.Connectives, such as because, are routinely used by parents when addressing their children, yet we do not know to what extent children are sensitive to their use. Given children's early developing abilities to evaluate testimony and produce arguments containing connectives, it was hypothesized that young children would show an appropriate reaction to the presence of connectives. Three experiments were conducted to test this hypothesis. In each, two informants gave contradicting statements regarding the location of an object and justified their positions by using a similar argument. Only one of the informants used the connective because to link his argument to the statement. In each experiment, the 3-year-olds performed at chance in selecting choices containing the connective because, but the 4- and 5-year-olds performed above chance. Moreover, in Experiments 2 and 3, the 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, and adults performed significantly better than the 3-year-olds. These findings show that 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, and adults are sensitive to the presence of connectives. An interpretation of the difference in performance between the 3-year-olds and the 4- and 5-year-olds in terms of metarepresentational skills is suggested.
- PublicationAccès libre
- PublicationAccès libreChildren's allocation of resources in social dominance situations
- PublicationAccès libreConfidence as an expression of commitment: why misplaced expressions of confidence backfireBecause communication can be abused by senders, it is not inherently stable. One way of stabilizing communication is for senders to commit to their messages. If a sender is committed to a message, she is willing to incur a cost (direct or reputational) if the message is found to be unreliable. This cost provides a reason for receivers to accept messages to which senders are committed. We suggest that expressions of confidence can be used as commitment signals: messages expressed more confidently commit their senders more. On this basis, we make three predictions: that confidently expressed messages are more persuasive (H1’, already well established), that senders whose messages were accepted due to the senders' confidence but were then found to be unreliable should incur costs (H2’), and that if a message is accepted for reasons other than confidence, when it is found to be unreliable the sender should incur lower reputational costs than if the message had been accepted on the basis of the sender's confidence (H3’). A review of the literature revealed broadly supportive but still ambiguous evidence for H2’ and no tests of H3’. In experiments 1, 2, and 3 (testing H2’) participants received the same advice from two senders, one being confident and the other unconfident. Participants were more likely to follow the advice of the confident sender, but once the advice was revealed to have been misguided, participants adjusted their trust so that they trusted the initially unconfident sender more than the confident sender. In experiments 3 and 4 (testing H3’) participants chose between either two senders differing in confidence or two senders differing in competence. Participants followed the advice of the confident sender and of the competent sender. When it was revealed that the advice was misguided, the confident sender suffered from a larger drop in trust than the competent sender. These results are relevant for communicative theories of overconfidence.
- PublicationAccès libreThe boss is always right: Preschoolers endorse the testimony of a dominant over that of a subordinate
- PublicationAccès libreEarly sensitivity to arguments: How preschoolers weight circular argumentsObservational studies suggest that children as young as 2 years can evaluate some of the arguments people offer them. However, experimental studies of sensitivity to different arguments have not yet targeted children younger than 5 years. The current study aimed at bridging this gap by testing the ability of preschoolers (3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds) to weight arguments. To do so, it focused on a common type of fallacy?circularity?to which 5-year-olds are sensitive. The current experiment asked children?and, as a group control, adults?to choose between the contradictory opinions of two speakers. In the first task, participants of all age groups favored an opinion supported by a strong argument over an opinion supported by a circular argument. In the second task, 4- and 5-year-olds, but not 3-year-olds or adults, favored the opinion supported by a circular argument over an unsupported opinion. We suggest that the results of these tasks in 3- to 5-year-olds are best interpreted as resulting from the combination of two mechanisms: (a) basic skills of argument evaluations that process the content of arguments, allowing children as young as 3 years to favor non-circular arguments over circular arguments, and (b) a heuristic that leads older children (4- and 5-year-olds) to give some weight to circular arguments, possibly by interpreting these arguments as a cue to speaker dominance.
- PublicationAccès libreWishful Thinking in PreschoolersThe current experiment sought to demonstrate the presence of wishful thinking—when wishes influence beliefs—in young children. A sample of 77 preschoolers needed to predict, eight times in a row, which of two plastic eggs, one containing one toy and the other containing three toys, would be drawn by a blinded experimenter. On the four trials in which the children could not keep the content of the egg drawn, they were equally likely to predict that either egg would be drawn. By contrast, on the four trials in which the children got to keep the content of the egg, they were more likely to predict that the egg with three toys would be drawn. Any effort the children exerted would be the same across condi- tions, so that this demonstration of wishful thinking cannot be accounted for by an effort heuristic. One group of children—a sub- group of the 5-year-olds—did not engage in wishful thinking. Children from this subgroup instead used the representativeness heuristic to guide their answers. This result suggests that having an explicit representation of the outcome inhibits children from engaging in wishful thinking in the same way as explicit representations constrain the operation of motivated reasoning in adults.
- PublicationAccès libreBelieving What You're Told: Politeness and Scalar Inferences