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ERIC Number: EJ1139428
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-May
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
What I Don't Know Won't Hurt You: The Relation between Professed Ignorance and Later Knowledge Claims
Kushnir, Tamar; Koenig, Melissa A.
Developmental Psychology, v53 n5 p826-835 May 2017
Testimony is a valuable source of information for young learners, in particular if children maintain vigilance against errors while still being open to learning from imperfectly knowledgeable sources. We find support for this idea by examining how children evaluate individual speakers who present very different epistemic risks by being previously ignorant or inaccurate. Results across 2 experiments show that children attribute knowledge to (Experiment 1) and endorse new claims made by speakers (Experiment 2) who previously professed ignorance about familiar object labels, but not to speakers whose labels were previously inaccurate. Study 2 further clarifies that children are not simply relying on links between informational access and knowledge; children rejected testimony from a previously inaccurate speaker even when she had perceptual access to support her claim. These results show that children actively monitor the reliability of a speaker's knowledge claims, distinguish unreliable speakers from those who sometimes admit ignorance, raising new questions about how such admissions factor in to children's appraisal of the scope and limits of a person's knowledge.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF); National Institutes of Health (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: DLS1023179; R01HD07689801A1