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Does the majority always know best? Young children's flexible trust in majority opinion

Einav, Shiri

Authors

Shiri Einav shiri.einav@nottingham.ac.uk



Abstract

Copying the majority is generally an adaptive social learning strategy but the majority does not always know best. Previous work has demonstrated young children's selective uptake of information from a consensus over a lone dissenter. The current study examined children's flexibility in following the majority: do they overextend their reliance on this heuristic to situations where the dissenting individual has privileged knowledge and should be trusted instead? Four- to six- year-olds (N = 103) heard conflicting claims about the identity of hidden drawings from a majority and a dissenter in two between-subject conditions: in one, the dissenter had privileged knowledge over the majority (he drew the pictures); in the other he did not (they were drawn by an absent third party). Overall, children were less likely to trust the majority in the Privileged Dissenter condition. Moreover, 5- and 6- year-olds made majority-based inferences when the dissenter had no privileged knowledge but systematically endorsed the dissenter when he drew the pictures. The current findings suggest that by 5 years, children are able to make an epistemic-based judgment to decide whether or not to follow the majority rather than automatically following the most common view.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Aug 12, 2014
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 8
Article Number e104585
APA6 Citation Einav, S. (2014). Does the majority always know best? Young children's flexible trust in majority opinion. PLoS ONE, 9(8), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104585
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104585
Keywords Selective trust; child development; social cognition; consensus' testimony
Publisher URL http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0104585
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





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