Naive Psychology: Preschoolers' Understanding of Intention and False Belief and Its Relationship to Mental Word
Committee ChairRosser, Rosemary
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn the current study, children’s understanding of false belief, intention, and their ability to distinguish the appearance of a character from its reality was investigated. Seventy-two three to five years olds were recruited from several preschools in the Silicon Valley in California. During the experiment, children were shown an animated movie in a computer and asked the false belief, intention, and appearance-reality distinction questions. Following the animated movie, children were also asked if they understand 10 mental words that depicted the human mind, such as think, want, believe, etc. The relationship between the children’s knowledge of the human mind and the mental words they understood was explored. Results of the current study revealed that children who were four and half to five performed better than children three and half to four on false belief tasks. Children’s performance on intention and appearance-reality distinction questions did not differ significantly across age. However, girls’ performance was superior to boys’ performance on intention questions. Similarly, girls’ knowledge of overall naïve psychology was also superior to that of boys. Moreover, the order of the naïve psychology concepts that children passed in current study was from intention to appearance-reality distinction and then false belief. Finally, the regression analysis of the data revealed that the mental word vocabulary children processed was closely related to naïve psychology development. More specifically, the number of total mental words that were reported by children or assessed by contextual questions was a significant predictor of naïve psychology knowledge.
Degree ProgramEducational Psychology