‘Mind-reading’ kids are not as gullible as we may think

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Published: September 23, 2015 8:58:14 AM

Young children are not as gullible as you may think as a new study has suggested that "mind-reading" kids are more discriminating learners

Young children are not as gullible as you may think as a new study has suggested that “mind-reading” kids are more discriminating learners.

The Concordia University and the University of Ottawa research shows that children are not as gullible as we might think and that’s especially true for those who have a good understanding of what’s going on inside someone else’s head.

Researchers show that even young children can be selective in whom they prefer to learn from.

Senior author Diane Poulin-Dubois said that they already know that some preschoolers are more likely to learn from individuals with a history of making accurate claims over individuals who have been inaccurate or ignorant.

Kids have also been shown to prefer learning from nicer, more confident or more attractive individuals-attributes that don’t have anything to do with intelligence. Researchers speculated that certain social-cognitive abilities might explain some of these learning differences, she added.

In the study, a clear pattern emerged: the children who could accurately intuit the figurines’ thoughts and desires were more likely to believe the individuals with the greatest verbal accuracy, rather than those who had demonstrated the greatest strength. That is, the kids with better ToM skills were less gullible.

First author Patricia Brosseau-Liard cautions that theory of mind accounts for only a small variance.

Even though theory of mind does predict children’s tendency to selectively learn from more accurate individuals, it does not completely explain this ability. There are likely many other variables influencing selective learning, including important social and cognitive attributes, Brosseau-Liard noted.

The study is published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

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