Senior Psychology and Anthropology Major Researches Selective Trust in Children

Senior psychology and anthropology major at Amherst College, embarked on a thesis project to study selective trust in children.

The research, overseen by Associate Professor of Psychology, Carrie Palmquist, delves into how children develop an information-seeking strategy from various sources.

The study involved presenting children with different cues, such as appearance, epistemic cues, and social cues, to determine how they choose whom to trust for learning.

The results revealed three distinct categories of children based on their strategies for seeking information, shedding light on individual differences.

For adults, the focus is primarily on epistemic cues, while children tend to prioritize appearance cues when selecting whom to trust.

These findings challenge the conventional wisdom about how children discern trustworthy sources of information.

The research demonstrated that children’s strategies for seeking information do not impact their overall success in cognitive tasks.

The study not only contributes to understanding child development but also has significant implications for education.

The research aims to improve how children discern trustworthy information in educational settings, influencing how they learn from different sources.

The senior researcher worked closely with a team of lab assistants, including SURF student Vaughn Armour, and Science Center Programs Coordinator Sarah Buhl, during data collection and analysis.

The collaborators played a crucial role in the success of the study, assisting in running experiments and gathering data from preschool-aged participants.

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