Trait or testimony? Children’s preferences for positive informants

Publication date: February 2020Source: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 190Author(s): Rachel C. Croce, Janet J. BoseovskiAbstractResearch indicates that children often show a positivity bias, or a tendency to favor positive information over negative information, in assessments of informant credibility in social and nonsocial situations. The current study investigated whether young children prioritize positive informant traits (i.e., nice vs. mean informant) as compared with positive speech content (i.e., positive vs. negative evaluation) in conflicting assessments of a work product. A total of 123 4- to 8-year-olds heard stories about a nice informant who gave a negative evaluation of a painting and a mean informant who gave a positive evaluation of the painting. Participants were asked who they would endorse, who they would ask about a future painting, and their friendship preferences. Children endorsed and asked the mean informant who provided positive testimony, but they chose to befriend the nice informant who provided negative testimony. Endorsements of positive testimony increased with age. Findings are considered in the context of the broader literature on selective social learning and trait understanding.
Source: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology - Category: Child Development Source Type: research

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