Does informational independence always matter? Children believe small group discussion is more accurate than ten times as many independent informants

AbstractLearners faced with competing statements that each have support from multiple sources must decide whom to trust. Lacking firsthand knowledge, they frequently trust the majority. Yet, majorities can be misleading if most members are relying on hearsay from just a few members with firsthand knowledge. Thus, past work has emphasized the importance of informational independence when deciding whom to trust, showing that children and adults do consider informational independence important in certain contexts. However, because informational independence precludes group deliberation, we ask whether children make the reverse inference and devalue informational independence when facing a problem that could benefit from deliberation. In two studies, children and adults ignore informational independence when attempting to answer abstract reasoning questions. However, for a question type for which deliberative reasoning would be of doubtful benefit, children and adults seek advice from multiple independent sources rather than a deliberative group.

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