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Title: The Development of Selective Skepticism

Abstract:

Adults and children are bombarded with information from many different sources, and not all of these sources have pure intentions or provide accurate messages. This research examines the development of the ability to be selectively skeptical: that is, to recognize that in some circumstances, it is important to discount the messages or judgments of others. Several studies will be presented that investigate the conditions under which children ages 5 to 14 discount the others as decision makers, focusing primarily on their understanding of partiality. To examine this issue, children were presented with stories about judges in different kinds of contests and asked to predict how accurate a judge would be, to evaluate a judge's decision, and to explain why there might be disagreement about a judge's choice of winner. The results suggest that children are better at recognizing a judgment may have been biased than predicting one will be, and that they may understand that negative influences on judgments before positive ones.