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Open Access Publications from the University of California

“He only changed his answer because they shouted at him”: children use affective cues to distinguish between genuine and forced consensus


Learning frequently forces us to rely on the good judgment and epistemic vigilance of sources with no more firsthand knowledge of a topic than ourselves, but who may have more second or third- hand knowledge. Yet, being forced to rely on their judgment doesn’t prevent us from evaluating their judgment: one might trust information because it was passed on to you by someone whose epistemic vigilance you trust, but reject it from someone whom you believe lacks good judgment. We present two experiments suggest that by integrating affective cues like anger and surprise along with perceptual access and consensus, children infer what others believe and what the correct answer to a question is. We discuss implications for consensus-based social learning strategies.

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