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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Fluency misattribution and the curse of knowledge bias in children Haddock, Taeh Bonn


The ability to judge what information other people are likely to know is vital to successful communication and social interaction. The curse of knowledge is the tendency to be biased by one’s knowledge when attempting to reason about a more naïve perspective. The current study sought to determine the role fluency misattribution plays in the curse of knowledge bias in children. Fluency misattribution occurs when the subjective feeling of ‘fluency’ associated with familiar, or easy-to-process, information gets misattributed when making various judgments. Applied to the curse of knowledge, fluency misattribution occurs when one’s feeling of fluency is misinterpreted as the information being objectively obvious or widespread. In the current within-subjects design 115 children aged four to seven were read stories involving two groups of animals, and were asked to judge whether their peers would know more about one group or the other. I tested fluency misattribution by manipulating the frequency with which participants heard about the animals, frequently throughout or only once. The results revealed that increasing the frequency with which the information was presented lead children to over-attribute how common that knowledge was among their peers. I also tested participants on curse of knowledge and source monitoring tasks, revealing a positive correlation between children’s fluency misattribution and source monitoring, and no relationship between fluency misattribution and performance on the curse of knowledge task. I discuss how these findings contribute to the field of social cognition, especially our understanding of the mechanisms involved in reasoning about what others know.

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