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Trust matters: Measuring and identifying a role for epistemic and interpersonal trust in preschoolers’ learning from teachers


Research Findings: Although work across developmental and educational psychology reveals that trust impacts children’s acceptance of claims and that teacher-student relationships impact learning outcomes, little work has integrated these literatures to better understand how students’ trust in their teacher facilitates learning. In the present work, we conceptualize and measure two distinct types of trust – epistemic trust and interpersonal trust – in order to better understand trust and learning in the classroom. Study 1 (N = 63 3- and 4-year-olds) manipulated the behavior of an adult teacher in order to test for predicted differences in children’s epistemic and interpersonal trust in the teacher. Study 2 (N = 43 3- to 5-year-olds) extended these findings beyond the laboratory by examining children’s trust in their lead classroom teacher at a university-based preschool. We found evidence for distinguishing between epistemic and interpersonal trust but did not discover associations between trust and learning. Taken together, these studies offer new insights for exploring children’s trust in applied contexts. Practice or Policy: Our approach highlights the importance of measuring distinct dimensions of trust from the students’ perspective and has implications for educational practices related to trust-building. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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