Children Often Trust What They're Told

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Oct. 19 (UPI) — Little children are particularly trusting of things adults tell them, a University of Virginia researcher says.

Vikram K. Jaswal says children are more trusting of information an adult tells them than the same information conveyed without words.


In an experiment, 3-year-old children were asked to find a sticker under cup. With some children, the adult claimed — incorrectly — the sticker was under the wrong cup, while with other children, she simply placed an arrow on the wrong cup without saying a word.

The children watching the adult put the arrow on the incorrect cup quickly figured out she shouldn’t be believed. However, some children who heard the adult say the sticker was under a particular cup continued to take her word — even after being misled seven times in a row.

The study, published in Psychological Science, reports out of the 16 children, nine never once found the sticker.

“Children have developed a specific bias to believe what they’re told,” Jaswal says in a statement. “It’s sort of a short cut to keep them from having to evaluate what people say. It’s useful because most of the time parents and caregivers tell children things that they believe to be true.”

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