Why Do Young Children Fail in False Belief Tasks: Linguistic Representations and Implicit Processing
Despite recent evidence that infants under one year of age have implicit understanding of theory of mind, three-year-old children repeatedly fail in traditional false belief tasks. A serious of 4 studies investigated two possible sources of errors. First, children's comprehension of theory of mind questions was tested in an elicited imitation task. Second, their understanding of mental events was measured using anticipatory eye movements in non-verbal tasks. Results showed that young children's performance in verbal false belief tasks is limited by their understanding of linguistic representations of beliefs and their ability to monitor mental states in real-time. This implies the limitations of young children in keeping track of complex social events in real time and in understanding language conventions in real time.
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