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.