We recently conducted studies exploring how young children (3- through 6-year-olds) reason about others on the basis of information about shared likes versus shared dislikes. Specifically, do children make different inferences about individuals who share their feelings regarding a liked food compared with individuals who share their feelings regarding a disliked food?
At the start of each session, we asked participants to rate different foods. Next, we introduced participants to puppets that expressed opposing opinions about those foods. Finally, we asked participants questions such as which puppet’s favorite food they would rather eat and which puppet’s favorite toy they would rather play with.
We found that participants viewed individuals who shared their likes and individuals who shared their dislikes as better judges of which foods are tastiest to eat than individuals with opposite preferences. However, shared likes seemed to support broader similarity-based judgments than shared dislikes. For instance, participants viewed individuals who shared their liking for a given food as better judges of toys than individuals who disliked that food, but participants did not view individuals who shared their dislike for a given food as better judges of toys than individuals who liked that food. Our findings suggest that children make rich inferences about others on the basis of shared likes and restricted inferences on the basis of shared dislikes.