Teaching Children to Attribute Second-order False Beliefs: A Training Study with Feedback


There are several training studies that showed that it is possible to teach preschool children to pass first-order false belief tasks. However, the literature is missing analogous training effects for school-age children with respect to second-order false belief tasks. We focused on the role of feedback in the development of second-order false belief reasoning in two different conditions in 5- to 6-year-old children: (i) feedback with explanation, (ii) feedback without explanation. Children’s performance improved in both conditions. We argue that children who cannot yet pass the second-order false belief task reason about the false belief questions based on the reasoning strategy that they most frequently use in daily life (i.e. first-order or zero-order theory of mind). Moreover, we argue that children can revise their wrong reasoning strategy and change to the correct second-order reasoning strategy based on repeated exposure to the feedback “Correct/Wrong” together with the correct answer.

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