If you ask your toddler, “Would you like cake or broccoli?” the answer, 8 times out of 10, will be “broccoli”, according to research that was published this year.

Wow, you must have instilled some seriously healthy food preferences in your child!

The truth is, toddlers’ verbal responses may have more to do with the order in which the choices are presented, and less to do with their comprehension of what they are saying. The study, led by the University of California, found that toddlers are highly subject to something called “recency bias” when faced with “or” questions. This means that they tend to “pick” the last option, repeating what they last heard, even if it’s not what they actually want.

Furthermore, this recency bias is stronger when the words are longer.

This study reminds us of the importance in swapping the order of options when asking young children about their preferences, especially when in Speech Therapy. However, using a biased design when offering choices at home, seems like a great strategy for parents! Cake or broccoli? You are welcome.

Read the full research article here:


Author: Kerry Belgrove

Kerry Belgrove is a qualified Speech-Language Therapist who graduated top of her class at the University of Stellenbosch, receiving special recognition awards for best student in academic, clinical and research work. She has gained clinical experience in a number of different health, education and private settings, but it is with the establishment of her own private practice that her passion for serving the paediatric population truly flourished. As a health professional, wife, and mom-to-be, Kerry is inspired to offer her expertise in helping parents through all walks of life.

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