Laura Schulz, a primary investigator in the Early Childhood Cognition Lab in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT led a series of studies on building trust in early childhood education. She reports,
Children learn a great deal about the world from their own exploration, but they also rely on what adults tell them. Studies have shown that children can figure out when someone is lying to them, but cognitive scientists from MIT recently tackled a subtler question: Can children tell when adults are telling them the truth, but not the whole truth?
In the most recent explorations
“This shows that children are not just sensitive to who’s right or wrong,” Gweon says. “Children can also evaluate others based on who’s providing information that is enough or not enough for accurate inference. They can also adjust how they learn from a teacher in the future, depending on whether the teacher has previously committed a sin of omission or not.”
Melissa Koenig, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Institute of Childhood Development who was not part of the research team, commented
“The study shows yet another set of criteria that children bring to their evaluation of other speakers, beyond things like accuracy, confidence, or knowledgeability,”