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Kids Susceptible to Nice Adults Who Could Lead Them Astray

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- As the old expression goes, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”  And to test that theory, Dr. Asheley Landrum, a recent UT Dallas graduate, wanted to find out how little kids responded to different kinds of people giving the same advice.

In a series of experiments, Landrum discovered that by the age of 4, youngsters were able to figure out when adult experts were reliable enough to answer their questions about specific topics.

Then, Landrum changed things up a bit, having the children listen to a "mean-looking" adult with more knowledge as opposed to an adult with incorrect information who seemed much more friendly.

The results are that kids seem more inclined to believe nice people than those who weren’t as benign, which could wind up being problematic in real-life situations, such as taking advice from a doctor or someone else in a position of authority.

Dr. Candice Mills, Landrum's advisor and co-author on the paper, said, “In these cases, children need to be able to put aside how nice or mean someone seems to be in order to learn to trust the right people.”

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