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Children’s Trust in Adults’ Testimony Paul L. Harris.

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3 Children’s Trust in Adults’ Testimony Paul L. Harris

4 Collaborators Fabrice Clément (University of Geneva)Fabrice Clément (University of Geneva) Melissa Koenig (University of Chicago)Melissa Koenig (University of Chicago) Marta Giménez (Open University, Spain)Marta Giménez (Open University, Spain) Francisco Pons (Aalborg University, Denmark)Francisco Pons (Aalborg University, Denmark) Elizabeth Meins (University of Durham)Elizabeth Meins (University of Durham)

5 Collaborators Elisabeth Pasquini (Harvard University)Elisabeth Pasquini (Harvard University) Rita Astuti (LSE, London)Rita Astuti (LSE, London) Suzanne Duke (Harvard University)Suzanne Duke (Harvard University) Jessica Asscher (University of Amsterdam)Jessica Asscher (University of Amsterdam) Kathleen Corriveau (Harvard University)Kathleen Corriveau (Harvard University)

6 Collaborators Rémi Torracinta (Cycle de Drize, Geneva)Rémi Torracinta (Cycle de Drize, Geneva)

7 Overview The scope of testimonyThe scope of testimony The early development of selective trustThe early development of selective trust Parallel testimony: The case of deathParallel testimony: The case of death Testimony and ontologyTestimony and ontology

8 The Scope of Testimony: Coady’s Parable “My first morning in Amsterdam I wake uncertain of the time and ring the hotel clerk to discover the hour, accepting the testimony of his voice...I read a paperback history book which contains all manner of factual claims that neither I nor the writer can support by personal observation or memory or by deduction from either: the deeds of a man called Napoleon Bonaparte...I reflect that on arriving at a strange city a day or so earlier, I had only the aircrew’s word that this was Amsterdam...”“My first morning in Amsterdam I wake uncertain of the time and ring the hotel clerk to discover the hour, accepting the testimony of his voice...I read a paperback history book which contains all manner of factual claims that neither I nor the writer can support by personal observation or memory or by deduction from either: the deeds of a man called Napoleon Bonaparte...I reflect that on arriving at a strange city a day or so earlier, I had only the aircrew’s word that this was Amsterdam...”

9 The development of trust and doubt When children are given information that they cannot check for themselves, do they accept information from any informant?When children are given information that they cannot check for themselves, do they accept information from any informant? Alternatively, do they select among informants?Alternatively, do they select among informants?

10 The development of trust and doubt Do they keep track of an informant’s past reliability?Do they keep track of an informant’s past reliability? Do they prefer information from reliable as opposed to unreliable informants?Do they prefer information from reliable as opposed to unreliable informants?

11 Koenig, Clément & Harris (2004) 3- and 4-year-olds received:3- and 4-year-olds received: Familiarization trialsFamiliarization trials Judgment trialsJudgment trials Test trialsTest trials

12 Koenig, Clément & Harris (2004) Familiarization trials: children observed two adults:Familiarization trials: children observed two adults: –a reliable adult who consistently named familiar objects accurately. –an unreliable adult who consistently named objects inaccurately.

13 “That’s a …shoe” “That’s a ….ball”

14 Koenig, Clément & Harris (2004) Children then received Judgment Trials:Children then received Judgment Trials: Judgment Trials: “Did either of them say anything right/wrong? …Who?”Judgment Trials: “Did either of them say anything right/wrong? …Who?”

15 Koenig, Clément & Harris (2004) Children then received Test Trials:Children then received Test Trials: Test Trials: An unfamiliar object was introduced and each informant named it differently.Test Trials: An unfamiliar object was introduced and each informant named it differently.

16 “That’s a wug”. “That’s a dax”.

17 Koenig, Clément & Harris (2004) Children were asked: “What do you think it’s called?”Children were asked: “What do you think it’s called?”

18 Koenig, Clément & Harris (2004) Children were divided into two groups:Children were divided into two groups: –Judgment not perfect –Judgment perfect

19 Koenig, Clément & Harris (2004) We then asked how these two groups performed on test trials.We then asked how these two groups performed on test trials. How often did they choose the more reliable informant?How often did they choose the more reliable informant?

20 Selection of more reliable informant on test trials by age and judgment

21 Next Steps How long does selectivity last?How long does selectivity last? Are preschoolers only sensitive to consistent accuracy versus consistent inaccuracy?Are preschoolers only sensitive to consistent accuracy versus consistent inaccuracy? Do preschoolers prefer familiar informants?Do preschoolers prefer familiar informants? Does attachment have an impact?Does attachment have an impact?

22 Corriveau & Harris (2006) Given that 3- and 4-year-olds are selective, how long does their selectivity last?Given that 3- and 4-year-olds are selective, how long does their selectivity last? Day 1: Familiarization + Judgment + Test trialsDay 1: Familiarization + Judgment + Test trials One Day Later: Test TrialsOne Day Later: Test Trials One Week Later: Test TrialsOne Week Later: Test Trials

23 Selection of more reliable informant on test trials by time and judgment

24 Pasquini et al. (2006) 3- and 4-year-olds again observed two adults:3- and 4-year-olds again observed two adults: –An adult who was more reliable over four trials –An adult who was less reliable over four trials

25 Pasquini et al. (2006) 100% versus 0%100% versus 0% 100% versus 25%100% versus 25% 75% versus 0%75% versus 0% 75% versus 25%75% versus 25%

26 Pasquini et al., (2006)

27 3-year-olds were above chance only when one informant was 100% correct. They were ‘unforgiving’ of even one error.3-year-olds were above chance only when one informant was 100% correct. They were ‘unforgiving’ of even one error. 4-year-olds were systematically above chance on all conditions. Their trust was undermined more gradually.4-year-olds were systematically above chance on all conditions. Their trust was undermined more gradually.

28 Pasquini et al., (2006) 3-year-olds display an all-or-nothing response.3-year-olds display an all-or-nothing response. 4-year-olds display a graded response.4-year-olds display a graded response.

29 All-or-nothing 3-year-olds

30 All-or nothing 3-year-olds

31 Graded 4-year-olds

32 Graded

33 Graded

34 Graded

35 Corriveau et al. (2006) Do children trust familiar more than unfamiliar informants?Do children trust familiar more than unfamiliar informants? 3- and 4-year-olds were given test trials with one familiar and one unfamiliar caregiver at Centers 1 and 2.3- and 4-year-olds were given test trials with one familiar and one unfamiliar caregiver at Centers 1 and 2. Children were shown an unfamiliar object and each caregiver gave a different name.Children were shown an unfamiliar object and each caregiver gave a different name.

36 Caregiver 1Caregiver 2 Caregiver 1Caregiver 2 “That’s a wug”. “That’s a dax”.

37 Choice of informant by Age and Caregiver at Center 1

38 Choice of informant by Age and Caregiver at Center 2 Choice of informant by Age and Caregiver at Center 2

39 Corriveau, Meins & Harris (in preparation) Children falling into four attachment groups groups (avoidant, secure, ambivalent and disorganized) were given test trials in which their mother and an unfamiliar experimenter gave different names for an unfamiliar object.Children falling into four attachment groups groups (avoidant, secure, ambivalent and disorganized) were given test trials in which their mother and an unfamiliar experimenter gave different names for an unfamiliar object.

40 MotherStranger MotherStranger “That’s a wug”. “That’s a dax”.

41 Choice of informant (mother versus stranger) by attachment status

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43 Summary of early selective trust 3- and 4-year-olds monitor for accuracy and prefer reliable informants.3- and 4-year-olds monitor for accuracy and prefer reliable informants. They remember errors for at least one week.They remember errors for at least one week. Whereas 3-year-olds display mistrust after a single error, 4-year-olds are more forgiving.Whereas 3-year-olds display mistrust after a single error, 4-year-olds are more forgiving. 3- and 4-year-olds prefer familiar informants, unless they have an avoidant attachment.3- and 4-year-olds prefer familiar informants, unless they have an avoidant attachment.

44 The development of trust and doubt Children will regard many adults as trustworthy because:Children will regard many adults as trustworthy because: They will have made accurate claimsThey will have made accurate claims They will be familiar to the child.They will be familiar to the child. Children will trust these adults – even when they cannot check their claims.Children will trust these adults – even when they cannot check their claims.

45 Parallel Testimony: The Case of Death Standard developmental approach: children gradually consolidate a biological ‘theory’ of death as a terminal point for all processes.Standard developmental approach: children gradually consolidate a biological ‘theory’ of death as a terminal point for all processes. Yet most children probably receive two parallel accounts of death: a biological and a religious account.Yet most children probably receive two parallel accounts of death: a biological and a religious account. Do children assimilate both different accounts?Do children assimilate both different accounts?

46 Harris & Giménez (2005) Spanish children aged 7 and 11 years were given two stories about the death of an elderly person:Spanish children aged 7 and 11 years were given two stories about the death of an elderly person:

47 Biological Story “In this picture you see Juan’s grandfather. At the end of his life Juan’s grandfather got very ill and died. He was taken to a hospital where they tried to help him he was too old and they could not cure him. The doctor came to talk to Juan about what had happened. He said to Juan: “You grandfather is dead now.”

48 Religious Story “In this picture you see Marta’s grandmother. At the end of her life Marta’s grandmother got very ill and died. She was taken to a hospital where they tried to help her but she was too old and they could not cure her. The priest came to talk to Marta about what had happened. He said to Marta: “Your grandmother is with God now.”

49 Harris & Giménez (2005) After each story, children were asked questions about the bodily and mental functioning of the dead person:After each story, children were asked questions about the bodily and mental functioning of the dead person: Example of question about bodily functioning: “Have his eyes stopped working?”Example of question about bodily functioning: “Have his eyes stopped working?” Example of question about mental functioning: “Can he still see?”Example of question about mental functioning: “Can he still see?”

50 Proportion of ‘does not work’ replies by Story and Process Type (Spain)

51 Harris & Giménez (2005) More ‘does not work’ judgments given:More ‘does not work’ judgments given: –For body than for mind –For biological story than for religious story

52 Harris & Giménez (2005) Having made a ‘does not work’ or ‘does work ‘judgment, children were asked for a justification.Having made a ‘does not work’ or ‘does work ‘judgment, children were asked for a justification. Children generally backed up a ‘does not work’ judgment with a biological justificationChildren generally backed up a ‘does not work’ judgment with a biological justification They generally backed up a ‘does work’ judgment with a religious justification.They generally backed up a ‘does work’ judgment with a religious justification.

53 Harris & Giménez (2005) Biological:Biological: –“He has been eaten by worms, he has no body. He just has bones” –“If he is dead, nothing can work.” :Religious: –“In heaven everything can work even if she is dead” – “The soul keeps working.”

54 Astuti & Harris (in press) Are two conceptions of death also found in a non-Christian culture?Are two conceptions of death also found in a non-Christian culture? Rita Astuti repeated the Spanish study with the Vezo people of Madagascar.Rita Astuti repeated the Spanish study with the Vezo people of Madagascar. The Vezo worship their ancestors - who may bring misfortune on the family if they are angry or displeased.The Vezo worship their ancestors - who may bring misfortune on the family if they are angry or displeased.

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57 Biological Story “This is the picture of a man called Rampy. He worked very hard all the time. And one day when it was very hot, he had a serious malaria attack, and his body and head ached a lot. His children and wife took him to the hospital, where he was given four injections. Nonetheless, after three days from the time he arrived at the hospital, he died.” “This is the picture of a man called Rampy. He worked very hard all the time. And one day when it was very hot, he had a serious malaria attack, and his body and head ached a lot. His children and wife took him to the hospital, where he was given four injections. Nonetheless, after three days from the time he arrived at the hospital, he died.”

58 Religious Story “This is the picture of a man called Rapeto. He had many children and grandchildren. On the day when he died, many of his grandchildren were with him in his house. And now that he is dead, he is often in the dreams of his grandchildren. Rapeto’s family has built the cross for him, and his children and grandchildren are happy because the work for his tomb has been completed well.” “This is the picture of a man called Rapeto. He had many children and grandchildren. On the day when he died, many of his grandchildren were with him in his house. And now that he is dead, he is often in the dreams of his grandchildren. Rapeto’s family has built the cross for him, and his children and grandchildren are happy because the work for his tomb has been completed well.”

59 Proportion of ‘does not work’ replies by Story and Process Type

60 Proportion of participants in four categories: Biological story

61 Proportion of participants in four categories: Religious story

62 Astuti & Harris (in press) A similar pattern to Spain:A similar pattern to Spain: More ‘does not work’ judgments given:More ‘does not work’ judgments given: –For body than for mind –For biological story than for religious story –Two co-existing conceptions of death

63 Harris et al. (in preparation) Are these two conceptions universal?Are these two conceptions universal? –Harvard Student Believers –Believers at a Catholic College –Harvard Student Non-Believers

64 Number of ‘does not work’ judgments by process and group

65 Summary Children and adults typically display two different conceptions of death: A biological conception and a religious conception.Children and adults typically display two different conceptions of death: A biological conception and a religious conception. The religious conception may be parasitic on the consolidation of the biological conception.The religious conception may be parasitic on the consolidation of the biological conception. Most people display no cognitive tension between the two conceptions.Most people display no cognitive tension between the two conceptions. Only non-believers seek to reconcile them.Only non-believers seek to reconcile them.

66 Testimony and Ontology: In making ontological judgments children might adopt:In making ontological judgments children might adopt: An empirical strategy – “What exists is what I have observed or could observe.”An empirical strategy – “What exists is what I have observed or could observe.” A strategy based on testimony – “What exists is what I have been told about.”A strategy based on testimony – “What exists is what I have been told about.”

67 Harris, Pasquini, Duke, Asscher & Pons (2006) 4-5-year-olds and 7-8-year-olds were asked about three different types of entity:4-5-year-olds and 7-8-year-olds were asked about three different types of entity: “Impossible” entities (e.g., Flying Pigs, Barking Cats)“Impossible” entities (e.g., Flying Pigs, Barking Cats) “Real” entities (e.g. Rabbits, Giraffes)“Real” entities (e.g. Rabbits, Giraffes) “Scientific” entities: (e.g., Germs, Oxygen)“Scientific” entities: (e.g., Germs, Oxygen)

68 Harris et al. (2006) Children were asked:Children were asked: –“Are there really _____?”

69 Predicted number of ‘yes’ responses to existence question: Empirical Strategy

70 Predicted number of ‘yes’ responses to existence question: Testimony Strategy

71 Actual number of ‘yes’ responses to existence question

72 Do children differentiate among unobservables? Children accept scientific claims about the role of the brain.Children accept scientific claims about the role of the brain. Children accept religious claims about the afterlife.Children accept religious claims about the afterlife. Do children differentiate among such claims? Do they have equal confidence in every type of unobservable?Do children differentiate among such claims? Do they have equal confidence in every type of unobservable?

73 Harris et al. (2006): Experiment 2 All unobservables are equal:All unobservables are equal: Mermaids = God = Germs Some unobservables are fictional; others (special beings + scientific entities) do exist:Some unobservables are fictional; others (special beings + scientific entities) do exist: Mermaids < God = Germs Some unobservables are fictional; some special beings probably exist; some scientific entities definitely exist:Some unobservables are fictional; some special beings probably exist; some scientific entities definitely exist: Mermaids < God < Germs

74 Experiment year-olds were asked about three different types of unobservable entity:5-6-year-olds were asked about three different types of unobservable entity: “Non-endorsed” entities (e.g., Mermaids, Ghosts)“Non-endorsed” entities (e.g., Mermaids, Ghosts) “Endorsed” entities: (e.g., God, Tooth Fairy)“Endorsed” entities: (e.g., God, Tooth Fairy) “Scientific” entities: (e.g., Germs, Oxygen)“Scientific” entities: (e.g., Germs, Oxygen)

75 Experiment 2 Children were asked:Children were asked: Existence: “Are there really _____?”Existence: “Are there really _____?” Confidence: “Are you very sure about that or not very sure?”Confidence: “Are you very sure about that or not very sure?”

76 Experiment 2: Mean Number of ‘Yes’ Judgments

77 Children’s justifications for ‘existence’ judgments Encounter (or Lack of Encounter): “I saw them at the zoo” or “My uncle has one” or “I’ve never seen one”Encounter (or Lack of Encounter): “I saw them at the zoo” or “My uncle has one” or “I’ve never seen one” Source: “Because I know that – my mum and dad told me that” or “I learnt that at school”Source: “Because I know that – my mum and dad told me that” or “I learnt that at school” Generalization: “Because animals can have germs” (non-causal) or “They give (you) diseases” (causal)Generalization: “Because animals can have germs” (non-causal) or “They give (you) diseases” (causal)

78 Experiment 2: Justifications

79 Experiment 2: Conclusions Children differentiate sharply between Mermaids on the one hand and God + Germs on the other.Children differentiate sharply between Mermaids on the one hand and God + Germs on the other. They differentiate both for judgments and justifications.They differentiate both for judgments and justifications.

80 Experiment 2: Conclusions In many ways, children conceptualize ‘endorsed’ special beings such as God and ‘scientific’ entities such as germs similarly.In many ways, children conceptualize ‘endorsed’ special beings such as God and ‘scientific’ entities such as germs similarly. –They often judge that each type of entity exists –They often express confidence in that judgment –They often justify their belief by offering generalizations – and by invoking a causal sequence

81 Experiment 2: Conclusions Yet children are also beginning to differentiate between ‘scientific’ and ‘endorsed’ special beings. Children’s judgment about the two types differ. Even if their pattern of justification is similar,Yet children are also beginning to differentiate between ‘scientific’ and ‘endorsed’ special beings. Children’s judgment about the two types differ. Even if their pattern of justification is similar, –They more often judge that ‘scientific’ entities exist –They express more confidence in their judgment about ‘scientific’ entities

82 Summarizing: Mermaids << God < Germs

83 Abarbanell (2006) interviewed children aged years of the Tseltal-speaking Mayan community of Tenejapa, Mexico.interviewed children aged years of the Tseltal-speaking Mayan community of Tenejapa, Mexico.

84 Abarbanell (2006) impossible (e.g., flying pigs, barking cats)impossible (e.g., flying pigs, barking cats) real (e.g., squirrels, chickens)real (e.g., squirrels, chickens) scientific (e.g., germs, oxygen)scientific (e.g., germs, oxygen) endorsed (e.g., ch'ulelal, ijk'al )endorsed (e.g., ch'ulelal, ijk'al )

85 Abarbanell (2006) Dead souls (ch’ulelal ) – the spirits or souls of the dead; a visit from the ch’ulelal can cause illness.Dead souls (ch’ulelal ) – the spirits or souls of the dead; a visit from the ch’ulelal can cause illness. Cave spirits (ijk’al) – small, black, cave- dwelling creatures that allegedly assault people at night.Cave spirits (ijk’al) – small, black, cave- dwelling creatures that allegedly assault people at night.

86 Abarbanell (2006)

87 Summarizing: Flying Pigs < Dead Souls < Germs = Chickens

88 Explanations: Why are children more confident about germs than God (or dead souls)?Why are children more confident about germs than God (or dead souls)? Three explanations:Three explanations: –Children are scientists – they assess claims for their causal plausibility –Children are sociologists – they sample public opinion –Children are linguists – they are sensitive to the pattern of speech acts

89 Children are scientists – they assess claims for their causal plausibility Children grasp that special beings, unlike scientific entities, have extraordinary properties, e.g., God is omniscient (Barrett, Richert & Driesenga, 2001); immortal (Giménez, Guerrero & Harris, 2005); and the Creator of species (Evans, 2000).Children grasp that special beings, unlike scientific entities, have extraordinary properties, e.g., God is omniscient (Barrett, Richert & Driesenga, 2001); immortal (Giménez, Guerrero & Harris, 2005); and the Creator of species (Evans, 2000). Arguably, these extraordinary properties lead children to wonder if special beings really do exist.Arguably, these extraordinary properties lead children to wonder if special beings really do exist.

90 Children are sociologists – they sample public opinion Children might keep track of the degree of consensus surrounding a given entityChildren might keep track of the degree of consensus surrounding a given entity They notice that everyone believes in germs but some people doubt the existence of special beingsThey notice that everyone believes in germs but some people doubt the existence of special beings Louis: “Some families believe in God”Louis: “Some families believe in God”

91 Children are linguists – they are sensitive to the pattern of speech acts Affirmation versus presuppositionAffirmation versus presupposition

92 Belief in special beings is often affirmed - rather than presupposed “I believe in God”“I believe in God” “There really is a Tooth fairy”“There really is a Tooth fairy” “Don’t touch that – it has germs” vs. “I believe in germs” (?) “You need oxygen to breath” vs. “There really is oxygen” (?)

93 How to test? Suppose that in a traditional, isolated community, children encounter unanimity rather than diversity of opinion about special beings and they encounter presuppositions (rather than assertions of faith) about such beingsSuppose that in a traditional, isolated community, children encounter unanimity rather than diversity of opinion about special beings and they encounter presuppositions (rather than assertions of faith) about such beings

94 Predictions Children are scientists:Children are scientists: –Ancestors < Chickens Children are sociologists:Children are sociologists: –Ancestors = Chickens Children are linguistsChildren are linguists –Ancestors = Chickens

95 Ontology: Conclusions Children display no sharp discontinuity between the way they conceive of unobservable ‘scientific’ entities and the way they conceive of unobservable special beings, including God.Children display no sharp discontinuity between the way they conceive of unobservable ‘scientific’ entities and the way they conceive of unobservable special beings, including God. Yet there are clear signs of a differentiation.Yet there are clear signs of a differentiation. How universal is that differentiation.?How universal is that differentiation.? What drives it?What drives it?

96 The Cautious Disciple? Preschool children are cautious about whose information they accept.Preschool children are cautious about whose information they accept. Children - and most adults - are ‘disciples’; they believe not only in biological death but in an afterlife. Children - and most adults - are ‘disciples’; they believe not only in biological death but in an afterlife. Children accept the existence of scientific and religious entities that they cannot see.Children accept the existence of scientific and religious entities that they cannot see. Yet they show some caution with respect to religious entities.Yet they show some caution with respect to religious entities.

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