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- 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 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.