Seeing who sees: Contrastive access helps children reason about other minds


Does contrastive access help preschoolers succeed on traditional false-belief tasks? Three- and four-year-olds were presented with a modified version of the change-of-location story in which two characters are the focus of interest. In the contrastive access condition preschoolers’ observe that one character leaves the room while the other stays and witnesses the moving event; in the non-contrastive condition both characters leave the room and fail to observe the moving event. Despite having to track two different characters and their different knowledge states about the location of the toy, preschoolers were more likely to succeed on the task when the characters had contrasting access to the moving event. This result supports a previously unexplored qualitative prediction of the Goodman et al (2006) computational model of the false-belief task and also provides tentative support for the theory theory view of the false-belief transition.

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