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April 19, 2012

A new article from Rubio & Geurts that addresses the way verbal features can affect performance on False Belief tasks

How to pass the false-belief task before your 4th birthday

Paula Rubio-Fernández
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London
Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, University of Oslo

Bart Geurts
Department of Philosophy, University of Nijmegen

(In press, Psychological Science)


The experimental record of the last three decades shows that children under four fail all sorts of variations on the standard false-belief task, while more recent studies reveal that infants are able to pass non-verbal versions of the task. We argue that these paradoxical results are an artefact of the type of false-belief tasks that have been used to test infants and children: whereas non-verbal designs allow infants to stay with a protagonist's perspective over a course of events, verbal designs tend to disrupt the perspective-tracking process in various ways, making it too hard for younger children to demonstrate their capacity for perspective tracking. We report three experiments that confirm this hypothesis, showing that 3-year olds can pass a suitably streamlined version of the verbal false-belief task. We conclude that young children can pass the verbal false-belief task provided they are allowed to track the protagonist's perspective without too much disruption.


Posted by ira at 1:05 PM | Comments (0)