False-belief understanding in infants

Renée Baillargeon, Rose M. Scott, Zijing He

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


At what age can children attribute false beliefs to others? Traditionally, investigations into this question have used elicited-response tasks in which children are asked a direct question about an agent's false belief. Results from these tasks indicate that the ability to attribute false beliefs does not emerge until about age 4. However, recent investigations using spontaneous-response tasks suggest that this ability is present much earlier. Here we review results from various spontaneous-response tasks that suggest that infants in the second year of life can already attribute false beliefs about location and identity as well as false perceptions. We also consider alternative interpretations that have been offered for these results, and discuss why elicited-response tasks are particularly difficult for young children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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