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UBC Theses and Dissertations

On the distinction between false belief understanding and the acquisition of an interpretive theory of mind Carpendale, Jeremy Ian Maxwell


Two groups of 5- to 8-year-olds, and a comparison sample of adults, were examined in an effort to explore the developing relationships between false belief understanding and an awareness of the individualized nature of personal taste, on the one hand, and, on the other, a maturing grasp of the interpretive character of the knowing process. In Study 1,20 children between 5 and 8, and in Study Two, a group of 15 adults, all behaved in accordance with hypotheses by proving to be indistinguishable in their good grasp of the possibility of false beliefs, and in their common assumption that differences of opinion concerning matters of taste are legitimate expressions of personal preferences. By contrast, only the 7- and 8-year-old children and adults gave evidence of recognizing that ambiguous stimuli allow for warrantable differences of interpretation. Study 3 replicated and extended these findings with a group of 48 5- to 8-year-old subjects, again showing that while 5-year-olds easily pass a standard test of false belief understanding, only children of 7 or 8 ordinarily evidence an appreciation of the interpretative character of the knowing process.

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