Children don't trust other children when it comes to learning a new game and will turn to adults for to learn the rules instead. This is the finding of a study published online Feb. 22 in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.
The study was carried out by Dr Hannes Rakoczy from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, who tested 44 children aged three and four. The children were shown a video of an invented game called 'daxing', in which either a boy or a man argued over the correct way to 'dax'. The child was then asked to 'dax', and the method they chose to use was recorded. Children were also shown a puppet, who said it was his time to 'dax'. The puppet performed 'daxing' either in the way the boy in the film or the man in the film did it, and the children's reactions were recorded.
The researchers found that the children imitated the adult's method of 'daxing' significantly more often than they imitated the boy's method. Children were also more likely to intervene when the puppet performed 'daxing' using the boy's method -- protesting that the puppet was 'daxing' wrongly.
Dr Rakoczy said: "The results from our study suggest that children prefer to learn from adults rather than other children when it comes to rule-governed activities like learning a new game. They also expect other people to learn and perform actions in the way that the adults do, demonstrated by the expectation that the puppet would also follow the adult actor's actions and not the boy's."
"These findings tell us that young children will accept adult's behaviour as being right, and that adults behaviour should be followed. This could have implications for wider social learning of both good and bad behaviour."
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