Children's differentiation between beliefs about matters of fact and matters of opinion

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Banerjee, R. ; Yuill, N. ; Easton, K. ; Larson, C. ; Robinson, Elizabeth J. (2007)

Two experiments investigated children’s implicit and explicit differentiation between beliefs about matters of fact and matters of opinion. In Experiment 1, 8- to 9-year-olds’ (n ! 88) explicit understanding of the subjectivity of opinions was found to be limited, but their conformity to others’ judgments on a matter of opinion was considerably lower than their conformity to others’ views regarding an ambiguous fact. In Experiment 2, children aged 6, 8, or 10 years (n ! 81) were asked to make judgments either about ambiguous matters of fact or about matters of opinion and then heard an opposing judgment from an\ud expert. All age groups conformed to the opposing judgments on factual matters more than they did to the experts’ views on matters of opinion. However, only the oldest children explicitly recognized that opinions are subjective and cannot be “wrong.” Implications of these results for models of children’s reasoning about epistemic states are discussed.
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