Children's trust in informants in risky decisions

Betsch, Tilmann; Lehmann, Anne; Lindow, Stefanie; Buttelmann, David (2020). Children's trust in informants in risky decisions. Cognitive development, 53, p. 100846. Elsevier 10.1016/j.cogdev.2019.100846

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When adapting to a risky world, decision makers must be capable of grasping the probabilistic nature of the environment. Developmental research on the ontogeny of the ability to use probabilities thus far has used different paradigms and revealed inconsistent findings. Merging two paradigms (choices based on probabilistic inferences; trust-in-informants decisions), we tested whether procedural differences are responsible for the inconsistent findings. 6-, 9-, and 22-year olds (N = 108) learned the relative accuracy of three informants in a labelling task commonly used in trust-in-informants research. Informants differed with regard to their validity (rates of being correct=0.17; 0.34; 0.83). Subsequently, participants were presented with an information board typically used in research on probabilistic-inference choices. Prior to choosing between two options, they were allowed to inspect informants’ predictions regarding choice outcomes. After choices, participants indicated which informant they would trust in other domains (e.g., biology, arts). A large contrast effect between trust decisions and choices indicates that the utilization of probabilities develops more slowly in probabilistic-inference choices than in trust decisions: 6-year-olds and a portion of 9-year-olds did not rely on the predictions of the high validity informant in their choices even though they trusted the informant in other domains. In adults, that pattern was reversed. We discuss our findings while considering the possibility that structural differences of the paradigms may impose different constraints on cognitive processing.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Buttelmann, David


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology








Jennifer Ruth Sprenger

Date Deposited:

22 Jan 2020 16:13

Last Modified:

26 Jan 2020 02:49

Publisher DOI:





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