Can children save us from the fake news epidemic?

The age of fake news has put a new spotlight on the importance of critical thinking, however. Is the answer to our brutally partisan deadlock the promotion of such skills in the younger members of our society?

The tooth fairy visits many cultures

Myths about baby teeth transcend cultures and help children gain independence. 

Why Trust is so Important for Effective Teaching

Dr. Koenig’s research in the Institute of Child Development (ICD) at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development explores whether children are less credulous than we assume and, in fact, are selective in whom they learn from based on whether they trust the source, also referred to as selective trust or selective learning.

Young Kids Know How to Learn From

Much of what we know is learned from other people. As young children, our parents and caregivers teach us about the world by talking with us, playing with us, and letting us watch what they do. As we get older, we learn from teachers in school settings, and our peers as well.


Li, P.H., DeAngelis, E.R., Glaspie, N. and Koenig, M.A. (2024), The Collaborative Nature of Testimonial Learning. Top. Cogn. Sci..

DeAngelis, E. R., Ridge, K. E., Gelman, S. A., Reyes-Jaquez, B., & Koenig, M. A. (2023). Understanding the value of telescopic testimony: With age, a predominantly White Midwestern sample of children credits knowledge to speakers whose statements go beyond the evidence. Journal of experimental child psychology231, 105652.

Li, P. H., & Koenig, M. A. (2023). Understanding the role of testimony in children’s moral development: Theories, controversies, and implications. Developmental Review67, [101053].

Brown, M. P., Ng, R., Lisle, J., Koenig, M., Sannes, D., Rogosch, F., & Cicchetti, D. (2023). Mind-mindedness in a high-risk sample: Differential benefits for developmental outcomes based on child maltreatment. Developmental psychology59(6), 1126–1135.

Pesch, A., Ridge, K. E., Suárez, S., McMyler, B., & Koenig, M. A. (2022). Evaluations of epistemic and practical reasons for belief in a predominantly White U.S. sample of preschoolers. Journal of experimental child psychology223, 105499.

Reyes-Jaquez, B., & Koenig, M. A. (2022). Greasing (small) palms: Early rejection of bribery. Child development93(5), e531–e546.

Awiszus, A., Koenig, M., & Vaisarova, J. (2022). Parenting Styles and Their Effect on Child Development and Outcome. Journal of Student Research11(3).

Koenig, M. A., Li, P. H., & McMyler, B. (2022). Interpersonal trust in children’s testimonial learning. Mind & Language37(5), 955-974.

Li, P. H., Stephens Hoff, E., & Koenig, M. A. (2022). Children’s attributions of moral and epistemic virtue: Effects on learning and memory. Developmental psychology58(6), 1114.

Li, P. H., & Koenig, M. A. (2022). The roles of group membership and social exclusion in children’s testimonial learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology216, 105342.

Reyes-Jaquez, B., & Koenig, M. A. (2021). The development of a morality against power abuse: The case of bribery. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General150(11), 2362.

Pesch, A., & Koenig, M. A. (2021). Trust Matters: Measuring and Identifying a Role for Epistemic and Interpersonal Trust in Preschoolers’ Learning from Teachers. Early Education and Development, 1-26.

Sera, M. D., & Koenig, M. (Eds.). (2021). Human Communication: Origins, Mechanism, and Functions, Volume 40 (Vol. 40). John Wiley & Sons.

Souza, D. D. H., Suárez, S., & Koenig, M. A. (2021). Selective Trust and Theory of Mind in Brazilian Children: Effects of Socioeconomic Background. Journal of Cognition and Development22(2), 169-184.

Suárez, S., & Koenig, M. A. (2021). Learning from “thinkers”: Parent epistemological understanding predicts individual differences in children’s judgments about reasoners. Child development92(2), 715-730.

Afshordi, N., & Koenig, M. (2021). Trusting information from friends: Adults expect it but preschoolers do not.

Sera, M. D., & Koenig, M. (2021). Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology: Human Communication: Origins, Mechanisms, and Functions: Volume 40. In Human Communication: Origins, Mechanisms and Functions (pp. 1-260). Wiley.

Li, P. H., Pesch, A., & Koenig, M. A. (2020). The sense of obligation in children’s testimonial learning. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences43, e76–e76.

Li, P.H., & Koenig, M. (2020). Children’s Evaluations of Informants and their Surprising Claims in Direct and Overheard Contexts. Journal of Cognition and Development, 1-22.

Li, P. H., Harris, P. L., & Koenig, M. A. (2019). The role of testimony in children’s moral decision making: Evidence from China and United States. Developmental psychology, 55, 2603.

Li P.H., Koenig M. (2019). Two sources of bias affecting the evaluation of autistic communication, 42(98), doi:10.1017/S0140525X18002327

Koenig, M. A., Tiberius, V., & Hamlin, J. K. (2019). Children’s Judgments of Epistemic and Moral Agents: From Situations to Intentions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(3), 344-360.

Koenig, M. A., & McMyler, B., (2019). Testimonial Knowledge: Understanding the Evidential, Uncovering the Interpersonal.  The Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology, (103-114).

Varhol, A. R., Kushnir, T., & Koenig, M. A. (2019). Preschoolers’ Evaluations of Ignorant Agents are Situation-Specific. In Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Creativity + Cognition + Computation, CogSci 2019 (pp. 3022-3028). (Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Creativity + Cognition + Computation, CogSci 2019). The Cognitive Science Society.

Shieler A., Koenig M., Buttelmann D. (2018). Fourteen-month-olds selectively search for and use information depending on the familiarity of the informant in both laboratory and home contexts. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 174, (112-129).

Harris, P., Koenig, M., Corriveau, K., Jaswal, V. (2018). Cognitive Foundations of Learning from Testimony.  Annual Review of Psychology, 69, 251-273

Pesch A., Suárez S., Koenig MA. (2018). Trusting others: shared reality in testimonial learning. Current Opinion in Psychology, 23, (38-41).

Pesch A, Koenig MA (2018) Varieties of trust in preschoolers’ learning and practical decisions. PLOS ONE 13(8): e0202506.

Clément, F., & Koenig, M. (2018). Epistemology: Knowledge in childhood. In The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Childhood and Children (pp. 13-22). Taylor and Francis.

Ridge, K.E., Pesch, A., Suárez, S., Koenig, M.A. (2018). Insights into Children’s Testimonial Reasoning. In: Saylor, M., Ganea, P. (eds) Active Learning from Infancy to Childhood. Springer, Cham.

Kushnir, T. & Koenig, M. A. (2017). What I don’t know won’t hurt you: The relation between professed ignorance and later knowledge claims. Developmental Psychology, [E-pub ahead of print].

Tagar, M. R., Hetherington, C., Shulman, D. & Koenig, M. A. (2017). On the path to social dominance? Individual differences in sensitivity to intergroup fairness violations in early childhood. Personality and Individual Differences, 113, 246-250.

Sabbagh, M., Koenig, M. & Kuhlmeier, V., (2017). Conceptual constraints and mechanisms in children’s selective learning. Invited commentary on “Rattling the cage and opening the door” by Cecilia Heyes. Developmental Science, 20(2).

Doebel, S., Rowell, S. F., & Koenig, M. A. (2016). Young children detect and avoid logically inconsistent sources: The importance of communicative context and executive function. Child Development, 87 (6), 1956-1970.

Doebel, S., & Koenig, M., (2016). The Emergence of Logical Inconsistency Understanding in Young Children and its Role in Epistemic Trust. Child Development.

Suarez, S., & Koenig, M., (2016). The Selective Social Learner as an Agent of Cultural Group Selection. Commentary on P. Richerson, et al., “Cultural Group Selection Plays an Essential Role in Explaining Human Cooperation: A Sketch of the Evidence.” Brain and Behavioral Sciences.

Koenig, M. A., Cole, C., Meyer, M., Ridge, K., Kushnir, T., & Gelman, S., (2015).  Reasoning about knowledge: Children’s evaluations of generality and verifiability. Cognitive Psychology, 83, 22-39.

Stephens, E., & Koenig, M. A., (2015). Varieties of Testimony: Children’s Selective Learning in Semantic and Episodic Domains.  Cognition, 137, 182-188.

Stephens, E., Suarez, S., & Koenig, M. A., (2015). Early Testimonial Learning: Monitoring Speech Acts and Speakers. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Vol. 48 (2015): 151-183.

Koenig, M. A., (2015). Variations in Teaching Bring Variations in Learning.  Commentary on M. Kline’s, “How to learn about teaching: An evolutionary framework for the study of teaching behavior in humans and other animals,” Brain and Behavioral Sciences.

Sher, I., Koenig, M. A., & Rustichini, A., (2014). Children’s Strategic Theory of Mind.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(37), 13307-13312.

Hetherington, C., Hendrickson, C., & Koenig, M., (2014). Reducing an In-Group Bias in Preschool Children: The Impact of Moral Behavior. Developmental Science, 17(6), 1-8. doi:10.1111/desc.12192.

Reifen, M., Federico, C., M., Lyons, K., Ludeke, S., & Koenig, M. A. (2014).  Heralding the Authoritarian?  Orientation towards Authority in Early Childhood. Psychological Science, 25(4), 883-892.

Sera, M., Cole, C., Oromendia, M., & Koenig, M., (2014). Object familiarity facilitates foreign word learning in preschoolers.  Language Learning and Development, 10 (2), 129-148.

Koenig, M. A., & Stephens, E., (2014). Characterizing Children’s Responsiveness to Cues of Speaker Trustworthiness: Two Proposals.  In E. Robinson and S. Einav (Eds.), Trust and Skepticism: Children’s Selective Learning from Testimony. Psychology Press: Cambridge, UK.

Cowell, J., Casey, E., Heatherington, C., Stephens E., & Koenig, M., (2014). Children’s Selective Trust in Others: Developments, Practices and Problems.  In O. Saracho (Ed.), Handbook of Research Methods in Early Childhood Education.  Information Age Publishing Inc.: Charlotte, NC

Carlson, S., Koenig, M., & Harms, M., (2013).  Theory of Mind.  WIREs Cognitive Science. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science. Doi: 10.1002/wcs.1232

Doebel, S., & Koenig, M. A., (2013). Children’s Use of an Informant’s Negative Moral Behavior: Discrimination versus Learning.  Developmental Psychology, 49 (3), 462-469.

Koenig, M. A., & Sabbagh, M., (2013).  Selective social learning: New Perspectives on Learning from Others.  Developmental Psychology, 49 (3), 399-403.

Koenig, M. A., & Doebel, S. (2013).  Children’s Understanding of Unreliability: Evidence for a Negativity Bias.  In S. Gelman & M. Banaji (Eds.), Navigating the Social World: What infants, children and other species can teach us.  pp. 235-240. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Koenig, M. A., & Cole, C., (2013).  Early word learning.  In D. Reisberg (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Psychology.  Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Lyons, K., & Koenig, M., (2013).  The Development of Social Cognition.  In D. Roberts & D. Penn (Eds.), Social Cognition in Schizophrenia: From Evidence to Treatment.  Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Koenig, M. A., (2012).  Beyond Semantic Accuracy: Preschoolers Evaluate a Speaker’s Reasons.  Child Development, 83, 1051-1063.

Koenig, M. A., & Woodward, A. L., (2012).  Toddlers learn words in a foreign language: The role of native vocabulary knowledge. Journal of Child Language, 39, 322-337.

Cole, C., Harris, P. L., & Koenig, M. A., (2012).  Entitled to Trust? Philosophical Frameworks and Evidence from Children.  Analyse & Kritik, 34, 195-216.

Harris, P.L., Corriveau, K., Pasquini, E., Koenig, M.A., Fusaro, M., & Clement, F. (2012). Credulity and the development of selective trust in early childhood.  In M. J. Beran, J. L., Brandl, J. Perner & J. Proust, (Eds.) Foundations of Metacognition, pp. 193-210. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Corrow, S., Cowell, J., Doebel, S., & Koenig, M., (2012).  How Children Understand and Use Other People as Sources of Knowledge: Children’s Selective Use of Testimony.  In A. M., Pinkham, T. Kaefer and S. Neuman (Eds.), Knowledge Development in Early Childhood: Sources of Learning and Classroom Implications, pp. 35-51. The Guilford Press: New York.

Koenig, M. A., & Jaswal, V. K., (2011).  Characterizing Children’s Expectations about Expertise and Incompetence: Halo or Pitchfork Effects?   Child Development, 82(5), 1634-1647.

Ganea, P., Koenig, M. A., & Millet, K., (2011).  Changing your mind about things unseen: Toddlers’ sensitivity to prior reliability.  Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 109, 445-453.

Koenig, M. A., & Woodward, A. L., (2010). Sensitivity of 24-month-olds to the Prior Inaccuracy of the Source: Possible Mechanisms.  Developmental Psychology, 46 (4), 815–826.

Koenig, M.A., (2010).  Selective trust in testimony: Children’s evaluation of the message, the speaker and the speech act.  In T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology, Vol. 3. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Koenig, M. A. & Harris, P. L., (2008).  The basis of epistemic trust: Reliable testimony or reliable sources?  Episteme, (4), 264-284.

Harris, P.L. & Koenig, M. A., (2008). Imagination and testimony in cognitive development: The cautious disciple? In I. Roth (Ed.), Imaginative Minds. Proceedings of the British Academy, 147, 101-120.

Pasquini, E. S., Corriveau, K. H., Koenig, M. A.  & Harris, P. L., (2007).  Preschoolers monitor the relative accuracy of informants.  Developmental Psychology, 43(5), 1216-1226.

Koenig, M. A. & Woodward, A. L., (2007).  Word learning.  In G. Gaskell (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Harris, P. L., & Koenig, M. A. (2006).  Trust in Testimony: How Children Learn about Science and Religion.  Child Development, 77(3), 505-524.

Koenig, M. A., & Harris, P. L., (2005).  Preschoolers mistrust ignorant and inaccurate speakers.  Child Development, 76, (6), 1261- 1277.

Koenig, M. A. & Harris, P. L. (2005).  The role of social cognition in early trust.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, (10), 457-459.

Koenig, M. A., Clement, F., & Harris, P. L., (2004).  Trust in Testimony: Children’s Use of True and False Statements.  Psychological Science, 15, (10), 694-698.

Clement, F., Koenig, M. A., & Harris, P. L., (2004).  The Ontogenesis of Trust.  Mind and Language, 19, (4), 360-379.

Koenig, M. A. & Echols, C. H. (2003).  Infants’ Understanding of False Labeling Events: The Referential Role of Words and the People who Use them. Cognition, 87, (3), 181-210.

Gelman, S. A., & Koenig, M. A. (2003). Theory-based categorization in early childhood.  In D. Rakison and L. Oakes (Eds.) Concept Acquisition and Early Categorization: Making sense of the booming, buzzing confusion.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Koenig, M. A. (2002).  Children’s Understanding of Belief as a Normative Concept. New Ideas in Psychology, 20, (2), 107-130.

Gelman, S. A., & Koenig, M. A. (2001). The role of animacy in children’s understanding of ‘move’. Journal of Child Language, 28, (3), 683-701