Preschoolers in Belarus and Turkey accept an adult’s counter-intuitive claim and do not spontaneously seek evidence to test that claim

Ronfard, Samuel and Unlutabak, Burcu and Bazhydai, Marina and Nicolopoulou, Ageliki and Harris, Paul (2020) Preschoolers in Belarus and Turkey accept an adult’s counter-intuitive claim and do not spontaneously seek evidence to test that claim. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 44 (5). pp. 424-432. ISSN 0165-0254

[thumbnail of Testing Counterintuitive Claims]
Text (Testing Counterintuitive Claims)
Testing_Counterintuitive_Claims.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (4MB)


When presented with a claim that contradicts their intuitions, do children seize opportunities to empirically verify such claims or do they simply acquiesce to what they have been told? To answer this question, we conducted a replication of Ronfard, Chen, and Harris (2018, conducted in the People’s Republic of China) in two countries with distinct religious and political histories (Study 1: Belarus, N = 74; Study 2: Turkey, N = 79). Preschool children were presented with five, different-sized Russian dolls and asked to indicate the heaviest doll. All children selected the biggest doll. Half of the children then heard a (false) claim (i.e., that the smallest doll was the heaviest), contradicting their initial intuition. The remaining children heard a (true) claim (i.e., that the biggest doll was the heaviest), confirming their initial intuition. Belarusian and Turkish preschoolers typically endorsed the experimenter’s claim no matter whether it had contradicted or confirmed their initial intuition. Next, the experimenter left the room, giving children an opportunity to check the experimenter’s claim by picking up the relevant dolls. Belarusian and Turkish preschoolers rarely explored the dolls, regardless of the type of testimony they received and continued to endorse the counter-intuitive testimony they received. Furthermore, in Study 2, Turkish preschoolers continued to endorse smallest = heaviest even when doing so could have cost them a large reward. In sum, across two different cultural contexts, preschool children endorsed a counter-intuitive claim and did not spontaneously seek evidence to test it. These results confirm and extend those of Ronfard et al. (2018).

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
International Journal of Behavioral Development
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, International Journal of Behavioral Development, 44 (5), 2020, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2020 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the International Journal of Behavioral Developmen page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? cognitive developmentlearningreasoningcounterintuitivetestimonydevelopmental and educational psychology ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
22 Jan 2020 11:20
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 20:18