Diana Mazzarella, Edoardo Vaccargiu

The puzzle of child trust. Between developmental psychology and the pragmatics of communication

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: testimony, epistemic vigilance, cognitive development.

Communication is a powerful tool for acquiring novel information. However, belief acquisition via testimony must be buttressed by trust. How does trust develop throughout ontogeny? Which are the cognitive underpinnings of children’s trust towards communication? In this paper, we address these questions by focusing on some controversial data coming from the existing literature in developmental psychology. Specifically, we outline the so-called puzzle of child trust: while children up to the age of four appear to be oblivious to the risk of deception, there is robust evidence for precocious mechanisms of epistemic vigilance in infancy. We address this puzzle by combining a social and a cognitive perspective. Here, we suggest that children’s apparent gullibility is the result of robust expectations of trustworthiness, calibrated to the experience with benevolent caregivers and triggered by the cognitive underpinnings of the interpretation of communicative acts

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