Alcorn, Mark


McDevitt, Teresa

Committee Member

Pulos, Steven

Committee Member

Geringer, Jennifer


Educational Psychology


University of Northern Colorado

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Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





198 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Knowing the relationship between perceptual access and the accuracy of knowledge is a critical skill for acquiring accurate information directly or indirectly from another. Some informants are more reliable than others although careful attention must be paid to whether they have appropriate perceptual access in order to acquire accurate information. In this study, I explored whether 4- and 5-year-olds (N = 176) used their previous knowledge evaluations of two model peers and their own knowledge of where knowledge comes from to determine who to trust when acquiring indirect knowledge about physical objects. Older children were more successful in identifying which sensory organ they used when acquiring modality-specific knowledge but both older and younger children overestimated the use of their eyes. I also found that 4- and 5-year-olds evaluated a peer's knowledge based more on whether a peer was previously accurate and therefore reliable than on whether the peer had appropriate perceptual access to acquire accurate knowledge. Five-year-olds were more successful than 4-year-olds when evaluating peers' knowledge acquisition of modality-specific attributes of physical objects. Regardless of age, children were more successful in determining whom to learn from when the peer that was previously reliable also had appropriate perceptual access than when the peer that was previously reliable did not have appropriate perceptual access to acquire knowledge about physical objects. These findings expand upon previous research in a number of ways, most importantly by showing that children's tracking ability of a peer's accuracy is quite strong and the results of the peer's track record is a more important guide in determining whom to learn from than whether a peer has appropriate perceptual access. Also, the results of this study extend others' evidence that children overestimate the value of sight when asked how modality-specific knowledge was acquired.


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