Infants, as a general rule, follow adults to learn how to navigate the world they are in. They mimic sounds, facial expressions and even habits and activities. This continues on into toddlerhood and before you know it, toddlers are taking on tasks that they watch their parents do, like pretending they are washing dishes and sweeping. But infants and toddlers don’t trust everyone….
A new study from Concordia University in Montreal revealed a really interesting bit of information recently – babies only follow individuals that they feel they can trust, and being fooled by an adult hurts the adult’s credibility.
In the study, which was published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, researchers spent time with 13 to 16 month old children. The team first looked into a container and expressed excitement to the babies. Some of the experimenters held containers with toys; others held containers that were empty. Experimenters then encouraged the child to look inside the container and discover what was inside.
Each experimenter than showed the child how to turn on a push-on light with their forehead. Interestingly, out of the children who had found a toy with their experimenter, an action which warranted the excited expression, 61 percent followed the experimenter’s lead. Children who did not find a toy in their containers had maybe felt they were tricked. And, as a result, only 34 percent only followed the lead of the experimenters in the second action.
Researcher Diane Poulin-Dubois, professor in Concordia’s department of psychology said,
“Like older children, infants keep track of an individual’s history of being accurate or inaccurate and use this information to guide their subsequent learning. Specifically, infants choose not to learn from someone who they perceive as unreliable.”
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