Preschoolers’ Trust is Sensitive to Variable Intentions

Abstract

This research demonstrates that preschoolers flexibly trust and mistrust the same individuals, as preschoolers recognize that their intentions may vary. In Study 1 (N=101) 3- and 4-year-olds trusted speakers based on their current, rather than previous, intentions to give in/correct information. Thus preschoolers infer the meanings behind different intentions and recognize that intentions change within individuals over time. In Study 2 (N=80) 3- to 5-year-olds trusted speakers who were currently sincere, but previously intentionally inaccurate, rather than currently sincere, but previously ignorant, showing that preschoolers infer current knowledge from prior intentions. Preschoolers also trusted speakers who were currently knowledgeable, although previously ignorant, showing that they recognize knowledge is variable within individuals.


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