Who Will Verify Their Claims?: Investigating the Influence of Group Membership on Children's Expectations About Others' Empirical Practices.
Levush, Karen Carmel
Butler, Lucas P
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The technological landscape of today allows for almost instantaneous global circulation and retrieval of testimonial claims. Children and adults alike are increasingly faced with the task of evaluating claims’ reliability without an ability to assess the validity of the process by which that knowledge is acquired. Expectations of a standard of empirical practice may vary based on the identity of the informant and can thus guide to whom we ascribe epistemic trust. The current studies examine whether 4- to 7-year-old children extend expectations of others’ standard of empirical practice differentially to minimal group members. In both the Pilot (N=36) and Main Experiment (N=96), children were randomly assigned to one of two color groups. We tested whether children’s attributions of verification behaviors were informed by their preference for and perceived similarity to ingroup members. We found that children were just as likely to ascribe verified and unverified claims to ingroup members as they were to outgroup members. A number of possible explanations for this finding is discussed, laying groundwork for an important line of research studying the relation between children’s expectations of others’ standard of empirical practice and perceptions of trustworthiness.