The Impact of Violation of Linguistic Expectations on Children's Perceptions of Helpfuless, Knowledgeability and Information Seeking Behaviour
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When seeking information, children expect informants to provide information that is congruent with their knowledge and to use conventional labels. Violations of these linguistic expectations influence their behaviour and perceptions, as they are less likely to seek information from informants with a history of inaccuracy or of violation of conversational form (Eskritt et al., 2008; Koenig & Harris, 2005) and perceive unreliable informants as “silly” (Brosseau-Liard & Birch, 2010). I explored whether violations of linguistic expectations influence children’s perceptions of knowledgeability and helpfulness and whether these characteristics predict children’s information seeking. Forty 5-year-olds observed a farmer and a car mechanic label objects for a foreign child. The objects were associated with one of the two informants, rendering one as the expert, and the other as the non-expert. The informants labelled the familiarization objects by stating either the object’s color or its super ordinate category. During test trials, children selected one of the two informants to label novel objects that were either related or unrelated to either one’s domain of expertise (i.e. novel animals, tools or odd objects). Finally, children rated informant’s knowledge of the familiarization objects and their willingness to help the foreign child. Results show that children perceive an informant who provided the super ordinate category as more helpful and somewhat more knowledgeable than one who provides the colour. When labelling objects related to the informants’ domain of expertise, children rely on expertise to seek information. For unrelated novel objects, a trend suggests that perceptions of the expert’s knowledge influence decision making. These results provide new factors underlying children’s information seeking.