While you may think it builds self-confidence to let your preschooler win at Go Fish, you could actually be doing your child a disservice.
Carrie Palmquist, assistant professor of psychology, and Ashleigh Rutherford ’16 have found that when young kids experience “illusory success,” it hinders their ability to formulate and act on judgments they make about their own performance. As a result, children may become conditioned to ignore valuable information they could use in future decision-making.
In a series of experiments, Palmquist and Rutherford asked 4- and 5-year-olds to play a hiding game with objects as two adult “experimenters” offered them clues. One of these adults gave the children accurate clues; the other gave inaccurate ones.
Palmquist and Rutherford then manipulated the game for half of the children so that no matter where the kids looked, they always found the hidden objects. The successes of the remaining children were left to chance, meaning that the kids were more likely to find hidden objects with the helpful adult than with the unhelpful one.