How do children learn and how much do they trust what others tell them?

Paul Harris is a psychologist interested in the early development of cognition, emotion, and imagination. He is currently studying how young children judge what they are told about the world—especially when the claims are hard to check because they pertain to the past, the future, hidden causal processes, or the existence of extraordinary beings.


Trust in Testimony

Paul’s latest research looks at how far children rely on their own firsthand observation or, alternatively, trust what other people tell them—especially when they try to understand a domain of knowledge in which direct personal observation is difficult. Many aspects of history, science, and religion, for example, concern events and phenomena that children cannot easily observe for themselves.

How far do children believe what they are told about these domains? When and how do they become aware of the conflicting claims made by science and religion?