Youth Services Law

Young Children Have Critical Thinking Skills

Young Children Have Critical Thinking SkillsA fascinating study of four- and five-year-olds found that children take a great leap in critical thinking between those two ages. According to the description at Scientific Blogging:

The researchers showed their subjects short videos of two adults talking about familiar animals. The speakers would either:

A. Make true statements about the animal in a hesitant voice

"Hmm, I guess whales live in the water?"

B. Make false statements about the animal in a confident voice

"Oh, I know! Whales live in the ground!"

The kids were then shown videos of the same two adults speaking about strange animals. The previously confident speaker would state facts with confidence, and the previously hesitant speaker remained hesitant while stating different facts. The participants were then asked whom they believed.

In children closer to the age of four, it was a 50/50 split: they were as likely to believe the confident liar as the hesitant truth-teller. But as they neared the age of five, participants were more likely to believe the previously accurate but hesitant individual, suggesting a year can make a big difference in terms of a child's evolution in the critical consumption of information.

This is an interesting study, not only for people who teach children, but for those who deal with child witnesses. A child's ability to think critically is a very important indicator of their ability to testify truthfully and to resist suggestive questions from investigators. Be sure that your expert witnesses are aware of this study and its ramifications for forensic work.

Stay Connected

Subscribe to blog updates via email

Contributors