The Influence of Power and Reason on Young Maya Children's Endorsement of Testimony

Developmental Science, (2015), pp 1-10 DOI: 10.1111/desc.12336

10 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2015

See all articles by Thomas Castelain

Thomas Castelain

University of Neuchatel

Stéphane Bernard

University of Neuchatel

Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst

CNRS

Hugo Mercier

University of Neuchatel

Date Written: September 11, 2015

Abstract

Two important parenting strategies are to impose one’s power and to use reasoning. The effect of these strategies on children’s evaluation of testimony has received very little attention. Using the epistemic vigilance framework, we predict that when the reasoning cue is strong enough it should overcome the power cue. We test this prediction in a population for which anthropological data suggest that power is the prominent strategy while reasoning is rarely relied on in the interactions with children. In Experiment 1, 4- to 6-year-old children from a traditional Maya population are shown to endorse the testimony supported by a strong argument over that supported by a weak argument. In Experiment 2, the same participants are shown to follow the testimony of a dominant over that of a subordinate. The participants are then shown to endorse the testimony of a subordinate who provides a strong argument over that of a dominant who provides either a weak argument (Experiment 3) or no argument (Experiment 4). Thus, when the power and reasoning cues conflict, reasoning completely trumps power.

Keywords: Reasoning, Power, Testimony, Traditional cultures

Suggested Citation

Castelain, Thomas and Bernard, Stéphane and Van der Henst, Jean-Baptiste and Mercier, Hugo, The Influence of Power and Reason on Young Maya Children's Endorsement of Testimony (September 11, 2015). Developmental Science, (2015), pp 1-10 DOI: 10.1111/desc.12336. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2658978

Thomas Castelain

University of Neuchatel ( email )

1, A.-L. Breguet
Neuchatel, CH-2000
Switzerland

Stéphane Bernard

University of Neuchatel ( email )

Avenue du 1er-Mars 26
Neuchâtel, 2000
Switzerland

Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst

CNRS ( email )

3, rue Michel-Ange
Paris, 75794
France

Hugo Mercier (Contact Author)

University of Neuchatel ( email )

Espace Louis Agassiz 1
Neuchâtel, 2000
Switzerland

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