False-belief understanding in 2.5-year-olds: Evidence from violation-of-expectation change-of-location and unexpected-contents tasks

Zijing He, Matthias Bolz, Renée Baillargeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Until recently, it was generally assumed that the ability to attribute false beliefs did not emerge until about 4years of age. However, recent reports using spontaneous- as opposed to elicited-response tasks have suggested that this ability may be present much earlier. To date, researchers have employed two kinds of spontaneous-response false-belief tasks: violation-of-expectation tasks have been used with infants in the second year of life, and anticipatory-looking tasks have been used with toddlers in the third year of life. In the present research, 2.5-year-old toddlers were tested in violation-of-expectation tasks involving a change-of-location situation (Experiment 1) and an unexpected-contents situation (Experiment 2). Results were positive in both situations, providing the first demonstrations of false-belief understanding in toddlers using violation-of-expectation tasks and, as such, pointing to a consistent and continuous picture of early false-belief understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-305
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental science
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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