Understanding Children’s In-group Biases: Does Group Membership Affect Children's Acceptance of Counter-Intuitive Information?

Previous developmental work has shown that children have a robust preference for their own group members. Another line of research has found that children are able to track the reliability of others and selectively learn from individuals who appear to be more knowledgeable. In the current study, we aim to build on past research and test how group membership and epistemic trust interact. Specifically, using both behavioral and physiological measures, to explore how group membership and plausibility of the speakers’ claims may affect children’s learning decisions and social preferences. To examine these questions, 48 four- to five-year-old children were recruited, assigned to a color group using the minimal group membership paradigm and then presented with claims about novel and familiar objects. All participants were randomly assigned to one of two between-subject conditions: (1) an ingroup condition where the ingroup member provided counterintuitive information; and (2) an outgroup condition where an outgroup member provided countervailing claims. To measure children’s social and learning preferences, we used selective learning, explicit liking, and resource allocation tasks. In addition, we collected ongoing cardiac activity, as indicators of ANS physiology to see any physiological responses.

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