British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 30 Issue 3 (September 2012), Pages 359-476

Judging judges: How do children weigh the importance of capability and objectivity for being a good decision maker? (pages 393-414)

Two studies examined developmental differences in how children weigh capability and objectivity when evaluating potential judges. In Study 1, 84 6‐ to 12‐year‐olds and adults were told stories about pairs of judges that varied in capability (i.e., perceptual capacity) and objectivity (i.e., the relationship to a contestant) and were asked to predict which judge would be more accurate. Participants generally preferred capable over incapable judges. Additionally, 10‐ and 12‐year‐olds adjusted their preferences for the most capable judge based on objectivity information. Seventy 6‐ and 8‐year‐olds participated in Study 2, which was similar to Study 1 except that the judges could both seem incapable unless children understood how different decisions require different kinds of perceptual capabilities. While 8‐year‐olds chose judges based on the relevance of the perceptual capability, 6‐year‐olds struggled, seeming to be distracted by the valence of the judges’ relationships to the contestants. Overall, these results support that there are important shifts in how children evaluate decision makers from early to middle childhood.

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