Social status and learning, how infants trust more on high rank agents

Social status and learning, how infants trust more on high rank agents


Jesús Bas1, Alba Ayneto1, and Núria Sebastián-Gallés1,2


1. Center for Brain and Cognition, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain



When infants receive conflicting information from different adults, they use several cues to determine which one is the most reliable. Here we study how the social status acts as a cue that helps infants to choose relevant informants.

The study had three parts. First, infants were presented with a video of two female agents competing for the same goal and one of them always prevails (the high rank). The second part consisted in the face of one of the agents appearing in the centre of the screen followed by the sound of an animal (sheep/cat for one agent and cow/cat for the other agent). Then the agent looked at one of the corners of the screen and the corresponding animal appeared (similar to Tummeltshammer et al., 2014). Critically, one animal (the cat) appeared in different locations depending on the agent. In the third phase, only the sounds and the pictures of the animals were presented to test infants’ looking preferences.

The analysis of the eye movements of 18- and 21-month olds showed that only older infants preferred to look where the high rank agent did. These results confirm that they use information about status to guide their learning.

Jesús Bas, Alba Ayneto, & Núria Sebastián-Gallés