Tuesday, 17 June 2014

As soon as they can read, children trust text instructions over spoken information

As adults, we've learned that simple text-based instructions are usually trustworthy. Imagine - if a stranger tells us to turn next left for London, but we come upon a street sign that states the opposite, most of us would probably assume the stranger had made a mistake, and we'd follow the sign.

In a new paper, researchers led by Kathleen Corriveau have investigated young children's trust in instructions delivered orally, versus those originating in written text. Their finding is that as soon as children have rudimentary reading skills, they trust written text over spoken instruction.

The research involved a Y-shaped piece of apparatus: two differently coloured tubes leading to a cup beneath. One tube was always blocked. Dozens of boys and girls aged three to six had to decide in which tube to place a marble, in the hope it would reach the cup beneath, so that they'd earn a sticker.

To help them, the children received instructions from two puppets. On each trial, one puppet simply spoke their instruction (e.g. "I say blue. Choose the blue tube") whereas the other puppet opened an envelope in which was written the colour of the other tube (e.g. "This says red. Choose the red one"). The children didn't get feedback on their performance until the end of the study, so they couldn't use results to judge which puppet to trust.

Regardless of age, the children who couldn't yet read were indiscriminate in whether they chose to trust the purely oral advice, or whether to trust the puppet who read the text instruction. By contrast, the children with some reading ability showed a clear preference to trust the puppet who read from the envelope, choosing the tube they recommended over 75 per cent of the time.

Two further studies cleared up some ambiguities. For instance, it was found that young readers prefer to trust a puppet who reads the instruction from text, than oral advice from a puppet who gets their information from a whisper in the ear. In other words, the young readers weren't simply swayed by the fact the text puppet was drawing on a secondary source. Young readers also trusted instruction from written text over information conveyed in a coloured symbol. This shows they're specifically trusting of written text, not just any form of permanent, external information.

Corriveau's team said their results showed that once children learn to read, "they rapidly come to regard the written word as a particularly authoritative source of information about how to act in the world." They added that in some ways this result is difficult to explain. Young readers are exposed to a good deal of fantasy and fiction in written form, so why should they be so trusting of written instruction? Perhaps they are used to seeing adults act on the basis of written information - such as maps, menus, and recipes - but then again, pre-readers will also have had such experiences. This suggests there's something special about the process of learning to read that leads children to perceive written instruction as authoritative.

_________________________________ ResearchBlogging.org

Corriveau, K., Einav, S., Robinson, E., & Harris, P. (2014). To the letter: Early readers trust print-based over oral instructions to guide their actions British Journal of Developmental Psychology DOI: 10.1111/bjdp.12046

--further reading--
Young children trust kindness over expertise

Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

11 comments:

DoseOfReality said...

Hypnotists are much like spiritual mediums. There claims can only be backed up by anecdotes and vague "proof". Just a the police don't use spiritual mediums to solve murders, public safety workers and medical professionals don't call in hypnotists to fix dangerous behavior and destructive personality traits, such as those dangerously obese, suicidal, or mentally unstable. Until hypnosis shows any real results to the point it is recognized as a real medical/psychological tool, it will stay shelved with the homeopathy and acupuncture "medicine" in the market of the new age fanatics. "I want to believe" -FBI Special Agent Mulder

Dr Richard Peacocke said...

In the 80s I did a short snap study of how many men washed their hands when paper towels were supplied compared to how many did so when only an air dryer was present. Quite interestingly, paper towels encouraged more water washing than the hot air dryers.


I, too, sat in stalls unobtrusively. Yeuk.

Research Digest said...

You are wrong. I'm a neuroscientist and I can tell you there is a huge amount of evidence on hypnosis and its brain correlates. Since 2001, hypnosis has been studied in a very serious way using techniques as electroencephalograhy, functional resonance magnetic imaging, positron emission tomography, etc. Don't focus on hypnotists; you may find charlatans amongst them. Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists can be seriously trained in the technique which, of course, isn't magic nor too different from guided mental imagery. But from a scientific approach, I can tell you neuroscience has given it a great scientific basis. We know what happens in the brain when someone is in hypnosis. A lot of what you said comes from myths of 60 years ago.

Research Digest said...

You mean neuroscience, since neurology is not more than a clinical application of the knowledge related to the brain structure and function.

Research Digest said...

Interesting article about hypnosis (or hypnotherapy)

Research Digest said...

said the man who doesn't wash after opening the door to all bathrooms he enters.

Research Digest said...

do you think there might be anything on the door you touch when you leave the bathroom after people who defecate and don't wash their hands?

Research Digest said...

Your an idiot!!! Clearly you haven't done the research in evolving trends in hypnosis. You expect it delivered to your lap.. Get off your lazy ass and look at standards and practices.

Research Digest said...

Yes u hope every person need to Can Hypnosis Stop Ebola
http://hypnosiswashingtondc.blogspot.com/

Research Digest said...

So, if those nasty people get sick or cause others to become sick/killed, then it would be on them.


Unless you have no access to water, soap, or anything else that can clean your hands, you are disgusting.


That is why I do not touch my face or so after shaking people's hands.

Research Digest said...

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