Selective credulity

People often prefer members of their own group to members of other groups.  This ingroup favoritism emerges early and is evident in children’s selective learning from others.  In our recent work, we examined whether preschool-aged children display this ingroup bias in their credulity toward misinformation provided by adults.

During the study, Caucasian, native English-speaking children received a false claim about a toy’s hiding location that contradicted their firsthand observations, from either an ingroup or an outgroup speaker.  When asked to retrieve the toy, 3-year-olds were credulous toward the false testimony of both speakers, despite their firsthand observations.  In contrast, 4-year-olds were credulous toward the false testimony of the ingroup but not the outgroup speaker.  This selective credulity in 4-year-olds may be rooted in early ingroup favoritism, in the form of children’s preferential expectations about the pedagogical value of information from ingroup members or their greater tendency to conform to ingroup than outgroup members (McDonald & Ma, under review).