Toronto: Even young children can be selective in choosing from whom to learn and those with a good understanding of others' thoughts are more selective, suggests new research.
These children who can gauge what is going on in other people's head are also likely to select the “accurate” person to learn from, the findings showed.
"We already know that some preschoolers are more likely to learn from individuals with a history of making accurate claims over individuals who have been inaccurate or ignorant," said the study's senior author Diane Poulin-Dubois, professor at Concordia University in Canada.
"Kids have also been shown to prefer learning from nicer, more confident or more attractive individuals -- attributes that do not have anything to do with intelligence. We speculated that certain social-cognitive abilities might explain some of these learning differences," she said.
To test the hypothesis, the researchers took 65 children through a series of tasks that tested their ability to learn new words, as well as their "theory of mind" (ToM) -- that is, the intuitive understanding of one's own and other people's minds or mental states.
The researchers tested whether the preschool-aged participants were more likely to learn new words from an accurate (with more verbal accuracy) or inaccurate individual.
They also examined whether the children were more likely to learn from a physically strong individual over a weak one.
The researcher found that children who could better understand other people's mental states were more likely to believe the individuals with the greatest verbal accuracy, rather than those who had demonstrated the greatest strength.
The study was published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.