`He Forgot' : Young Children's Use of Cognitive Explanations for Another Person's Mistakes
Pillow, Bradford H.
Lovett, Suzanne B.
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Children, ages 4 and 5 years, and adults were asked (a) to explain a story character's incorrect search for a desired object, and (b) to explain the source of the character's ignorance or false belief concerning the object's true location. The character either (a) did not receive information about the object's location, (b) received information about the object's original location, but not about a subsequent change of location, (c) received information but searched for the object after a delay, or (d) received information about the object's location, but was engaged in another activity when the information was presented. With increased age, there was an increase in explanations that referred to perceptual experience or cognitive activities as the source of the character's ignorance or false belief. By age 5 years, children shifted between explanations that referred to perceptual experience or to the cognitive activities of forgetting or attentional focus, depending upon the circumstances in which the incorrect search occurred. During the late preschool years a conception of cognitive activities as contributing to knowledge and belief becomes integrated into children's conceptual framework for explaining human action.