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Contributors:
  1. Laura Nelson

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Description: Assessing the value of the information one receives and the intentions of the source of that information can be used to establish cooperative relationships and to identify cooperative partners. Across two experiments, four- to eight-year-old children (N=204) received a note with correct, incorrect, or no information that affected their efforts on a search task. Children were told that all informants had played the game before and knew the location of the hidden reward. In the no information condition, children were told that the informant had to leave before finishing the note and thus was not intentionally uninformative. Children rated the note with correct information as more helpful than the note with no information; incorrect information was rated least helpful. When asked about the informant’s intentions, children attributed positive intentions when the information was correct and when they received unhelpful information but knew the informant was not intentionally uninformative. Children attributed less positive intentions to the informant when they received incorrect information. When given the chance to reward the informant, children rewarded the informant who provided correct information and no information equally; the informant who provided incorrect information received fewer rewards. Combined, these results suggest that young children assume that informants have positive intentions. However, when the information provided is clearly inaccurate, children infer more negative intentions and reward those informants at lower rates. These results suggest that children tend to reward informants more based on their presumed intentions placing less weight on the value of the information they provide.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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