Examining Developmental Change in Children’s Information Use

AbstractAdults tend to make biased inferences when they are given base-rates that conflict with individuating information (i.e., a personality description). More recent work has shown that children rely on individuating information by the age of 6, though 4-year-olds rely more on numerical information, arguably providing the more normative response (Gualtieri & Denison, 2018). In two experiments (N = 80 per experiment), we explored age differences in 4- and 6-year-old children’s ability to integrate base-rate and individuating information by manipulating the strength of the information provided. Four-year-olds’ responses reflected more base-rate use, regardless of the strength of the individuating information. Six-year-olds weighed the information at hand, showing a general preference for the individuating information but relying more on the base-rates when the individuating information was less informative. Though younger preschoolers may overuse base-rate information, with development there is an increased sensitivity toward individuating information and weighing information.

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