Children reason about shared preferences

Fawcett, C. A., & Markson, L. (2010). Children reason about shared preferences. Developmental Psychology, 46, 299-309. doi:10.1037/a0018539.
Two-year-old children’s reasoning about the relation between their own and others’ preferences was investigated across two studies. In Experiment 1, children first observed 2 actors display their individual preferences for various toys. Children were then asked to make inferences about new, visually inaccessible toys and books that were described as being the favorite of each actor, unfamiliar to each actor, or disliked by each actor. Children tended to select the favorite toys and books from the actor who shared their own preference but chose randomly when the new items were unfamiliar to or disliked by the two actors. Experiment 2 extended these findings, showing that children do not generalize a shared preference across unrelated categories of items. Taken together, the results suggest that young children readily recognize when another person holds a preference similar to their own and use that knowledge appropriately to achieve desired outcomes.
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