Preschoolers' development of theory of mind: The contribution of understanding psychological causality in stories

Wakako Sanefuji, Etsuko Haryu

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigated the relationship between children's abilities to understand causal sequences and another's false belief. In Experiment 1, we tested 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old children (n = 28, 28, 27, and 27, respectively) using false belief and picture sequencing tasks involving mechanical, behavioral, and psychological causality. Understanding causal sequences in mechanical, behavioral, and psychological stories was related to understanding other's false beliefs. In Experiment 2, children who failed the initial false belief task (n = 50) were reassessed 5 months later. High scorers in the sequencing of the psychological stories in Experiment 1 were more likely to pass the standard false belief task than were the low scorers. Conversely, understanding causal sequences in the mechanical and behavioral stories in Experiment 1 did not predict passing the false belief task in Experiment 2. Thus, children may understand psychological causality before they are able to use it to understand false beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number955
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume9
Issue numberJUN
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 12 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

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