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Description: The world can be a confusing place, which leads to a significant challenge: how do we figure out what is true? To accomplish this, children possess two relevant skills: reasoning about the likelihood of their own accuracy (metacognitive confidence) and reasoning about the likelihood of others’ accuracy (mindreading). Guided by Signal Detection Theory and Simulation Theory, we examine whether these two self- and other-oriented skills are one in the same, relying on a single cognitive process. Specifically, Signal Detection Theory proposes that confidence in a decision is purely derived from the imprecision of that decision, predicting a tight correlation between decision accuracy and confidence. Simulation Theory further proposes that children attribute their own cognitive experience to others when reasoning socially. Together, these theories predict that children’s self and other reasoning should be highly correlated and dependent on decision accuracy. In four studies (N = 374), children aged 4–7 completed a confidence reasoning task and selective social learning task each designed to eliminate confounding language and response biases, enabling us to isolate the unique correlation between self and other reasoning. However, in three of the four studies, we did not find that individual differences on the two tasks correlated, nor that decision accuracy explained performance. These findings suggest self and other reasoning are either independent in childhood, or the result of a single process that operates differently for self and others.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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