The present study investigated whether surprising outcomes promote young children’s understanding of false beliefs. Thirty-three 3-year-olds (3;4–4;3) and 36 4-year-olds (4;4–5;3) completed three kinds of false belief tasks. One of the tasks included irrational events (an object in a pot suddenly disappeared and another object appeared unexpectedly). The other two tasks had a similar story structure to the “irrational task” did not include the surprising disappearance/appearance of objects. Children in both age groups gave more correct answers on the irrational tasks than on the other two tasks. Although the proportion of correct answers for irrational tasks did not significantly exceed a chance level, consistency of answers on the irrational tasks was high, especially among 4-year-olds. These findings suggest that children used the surprising experiences aroused by irrational events as a cue to draw inferences about others’ and their own false beliefs. The results also indicate that children’s hindsight bias may interfere with their mind-reading processes, and that a mechanism to represent false beliefs is in operation before children become able to pass standard false belief tasks.
|Translated title of the contribution||Irrational Outcomes Promote Young Children's Understanding of False Beliefs|
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|