Children's understanding of promising, lying, and false belief.

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The Journal of general psychology, ISSN: 0022-1309, Vol: 135, Issue: 3, Page: 301-21

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Maas, Fay K
Informa UK Limited
Social Sciences, Psychology, Arts and Humanities
article description
Understanding promising and lying requires an understanding of intention and the ability to interpret mental states. The author examined (a) the extent to which 4- to 6-year-olds focus on the sincerity of the speaker's intention when the 4-to 6-year-olds make judgments about promises and lies and (b) whether false-belief reasoning skills are related to understanding promising and lying. Participants watched videotaped stories and made promise and lie judgments from their own perspective and from the listener-character's perspective. Children also completed false-belief reasoning tasks. Older children made more correct promise judgments from both perspectives. All children made correct lie judgments from the listener's perspective. The author found that Ist-order false-belief reasoning was related to making judgments from the participant's perspective; 2nd-order false-belief reasoning was related to making judgments from the listener-character's perspective. Results suggest that children's understanding of promising and lying moves from a focus on outcome toward a focus on the belief that each utterance is designed to create.

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